The four‐part cycle Parallel deals with the image genre of computer animation. The series focuses on the construction, visual landscape and inherent rules of computer-animated worlds.
"Computer animations are currently becoming a general model, surpassing film. In films, there is the wind that blows and the wind that is produced by a wind machine. Computer images do not have two kinds of wind."—Harun Farocki
A history of graphical representation in computer games. It starts with the 30 year history of the tree in computer games, how it changed and what it means to recognise a tree in a game around 2010. It then goes on to explain how images are adapted and transferred across media. It ends with the claim that the creators of computer images want to surpass film images.
This is the first in a series of four films about the visuality, ontology and philosophy of digital imaging in computer games, along with its intersections with other visual art forms and cognitive philosophy.
Parallel I opens up a history of styles in computer graphics. The first games of the 1980s consisted of only horizontal and vertical lines. This abstraction was seen as a failing, and today representations are oriented towards photo‐realism.
"For over one hundred years photography and film were the leading media. From the start, they served not only to inform and entertain, but were also media of scientific research and documentation. That’s also why these reproduction techniques were associated with notions of objectivity and contemporaneity -- whereas images created by drawing and painting indicated subjectivity and the transrational.
Apparently today computer animation is taking the lead. Our subject is the development and creation of digital animation. If, for example, a forest has to be covered in foliage, the basic genetic growth program will be applied, so that “trees with fresh foliage”, “a forest in which some trees bear four-week-old foliage, others six-week-old foliage” can be created. The more generative algorithms are used, the more the image detaches itself from the appearance as found and becomes an ideal-typical.
"Using the example of trees and bushes, water, fire and clouds we compare the development of surfaces and colourings over the past thirty years in computer animation images. We want to document reality-effects such as reflections, clouds, and smoke in their evolutionary history." -- Harun Farocki
This second film deals with the spatial dimensions of computer game imagery. Permitted and forbidden space. How boarders are established in computer games spaces. A beautiful thing that encages the player.
Parallel II explores the borders and boundaries of the game worlds. The work follows characters attempts to escape the edges of their animated world by any means, and seeks to reveal what lies outside of the defined spaces and digital borders.
We as player are placed within the space of the game. Before long the limit of the game is reached. The limit of the game is a backdrop as in a theatre. The world ends like a board game.
Parallel III seeks out the backdrops of the game worlds and the nature of their digital objects. It reveals digital worlds which take the form of discs floating in the universe—reminiscent of pre-Hellenistic conceptions of the universe. The animated worlds appear as one-sided theatre stages, flat backdrops revealed only by the movements of an omniscient camera. The objects in the worlds often do not react to "natural forces." Each of their properties must be separately constructed and assigned to them.
Parallel IV explores the actions of the heroes and protagonists of the video game world. These heroes have no parents or teachers; they must test their relationships with others and determine of their, own accord, the rules to follow. Farocki notes these characters are "homunculi, anthropomorphist beings, created by humans. Whoever plays with them has a share in the creator's pride."