harun farocki was born in 1944 in nový jičín, in the then german-annexed czechoslovakia. in 1962 he ran away from home in hamburg and moved to west berlin before enrolling in the berlin film academy (dffb).
he made his first film in 1966 and has since made over 100 films for television and cinema, including children’s programmes, documentaries, essays and feature films. farocki’s career extends for almost fifty years, from his ‘60s agitprop films against the vietnam war, his didactic marxist fiction features of the late ‘70s, and his highly diverse array of documentaries and essay films from the ‘80s and ‘90s. he first rose to prominence in 1973 with his documentary for wdr television the trouble with images. a critique of television by harun farocki, which examined the disparity between words and images in daily broadcasts, instigating a fierce debate in the west german media. in 1974 he started work as a writer and editor for the magazine filmkritik, where he remained for over ten years. subsequent films such as images of the world and the inscription of war (1988) and videograms of a revolution (1992) cemented his reputation as a leading german filmmaker.
in the 1990s he started making works for two or more screens, which moved him from the realm of cinema and television to the art gallery. these so called 'essay films' investigate the disparity between the official version of historical events, as portrayed in the media, and that of real life, meticulously analysing the way that society uses photographs and the moving image. farocki has now established himself as an enduring presence in the art world and his video installations have appeared at the ica in london (2003), the zkm in karlsruhe (2004), at documenta in kassel (1997, 2007) and more recently at jeu de paume, paris (2009), museum ludwig, cologne (2009), raven row, london (2009-10) and kunsthaus bregenz (2010).
between 1993 and 1999 he was a visiting professor at the university of california, berkeley. in autumn 2010 he was also a visiting lecturer at the department of visual and environmental studies at harvard, cambridge. he is currently a professor at the academy of fine arts in vienna.