How a look can be turned toward its goal by grasping and measuring its covetousness is shown in an exemplary fashion in What's Up? in a motif depicting a postcard of a painting by Titian in an eye-mark recorder. Elsewhere topographical test images of the human brain record stimulus-response patters during visual trials by measuring brainwaves (calibration curves).
Research on the effectiveness of advertising investigates the question of what advertisements affect what regions of the brain, what scenes 'work' – images for an 'inward' colonization of the human body, at once a commodity and a market. What's Up? – in the face of the all-apparent and inexplicable similarities, the bemused question of a cause innate to all lingers.
The film links its subjects into conceptual pairs in various jargons which appear to be laid out side-by-side in domino-like fashion ('test/money – money/credit – middle class/beauty'). It is an authorial text, condensed into intertitles with the character of pauses, breaks and cuts. Somewhere in Balzac's Comédie Humaine it says that we may all belong to a great conspiracy, whether we know it or not; but the inner and the secret need not be one's own.
Original title Was ist los Director, scriptwriter, interviews Harun Farocki Cinematographer Ingo Kratisch Second cinematographer Arthur Ahrweiler Editor Rosa Mercedes, Irina Hoppe Sound Gerhard Metz Sound assistant Klaus Klingler, Ronny Tanner Mixing Gerhard Jensen-Nelson Researcher Michael Trabitzsch Production Harun Farocki Filmproduktion, Berlin-West, for WDR, Cologne Producer Harun Farocki TV-producer Werner Dütsch Format 16mm, col., 1:1,37 Length 60 min. First screening 12.11.1991, Duisburg (Duisburger Filmwoche) First broadcast 18.11.1991, West 3
All Works of this Decade:Words and GamesThe Chief Executive OfficerThe Advertisement InfoThe Expression of HandsStill LifeThe InterviewThe Ad GuyThe AppearanceThe Theater of the RetrainingKitchen HelpersWorkers Leaving the FactoryThe Leading RoleRetrainingA Day in the Life of a ConsumerShort Films by Peter WeissBefore your Eyes VietnamView of the City