In one statement in 2008, written before the production of Serious Games, Farocki outlined his intentions to shoot actual therapy sessions between military therapists and veterans from Iraq. This was before he was denied access by the United States military to therapy sessions—“for ethical reasons,” Farocki adds wistfully in a recorded presentation at the Slought Foundation in 2010. In his 2008 statement he explains that their “approach to documentary filmmaking means we never intervene in the situation, we simply allow it to unfold as (it would) if we were not there.” It is a fundamental but still impossible metric in documentary ethics, to simply allow something to happen, “as if we were not there.” Another way to think about Farocki’s absence: Could any patient working through a trauma possibly enter into the world of their trauma in the presence of a documentary crew?
Of course, in some ways, people do this all the time, act under surveillance, spill their guts. The furtive presence of the audience in the edit of Immersion included in the Serious Games exhibition, and the ambiguity of whether the person performing as patient in this video is also actually a veteran or just an actor—a result of the US military’s executive decision to forbid Farocki’s presence in an actual therapy session—makes this tension between therapeutic intimacy and surveillance even more felt. Farocki, his collaborators, and many of his viewers, including myself, have never been in the room of an actual therapy session with a veteran. We fall on the outside of this experience of war...
— “Serious Sun,” Hypocrite Reader, 2015.
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