This essay film revolves around various forms of representation, ranging from 19th-century perspective to computer simulations of landscapes and the film’s actual heart: a misleadingly simple archival image that later reveals a staggering blind spot.
I try to use a term operational images. This goes back to Roland Barthes in Mythologies, where he says that a non-metaphoric language, an operational language, would be the one that a woodpecker uses: it’s speaking with a tree and not about a tree.
A year later, when the Germans had lost the war and the concentration camps were liberated, the Allies photographed and filmed the camps, the survivors, and the traces that pointed to the millions murdered. It was above all the images of piles of shoes, glasses, false teeth, the mountains of shorn hair that have made such a profound impression. Perhaps we need images, so that something that is hardly imaginable can register: photographic images as the impressions of the actual at a distance.