Using Infrared Cinematography to Make the Invisible, Visible in the Documentary 'The Enclave'
Earlier this year whilst discussing Lomography's announcement for LomoChrome Purple -- which was inspired by the discontinued Aerochrome infrared stock -- we touched on the work of photographer Richard Mosse and his striking use of the original Kodak stock in his images from the war ravaged Eastern Congo. Mosse's work in the region has continued, culminating in The Enclave, a 39 minute, Arriflex-shot 16mm infrared shot documentary / multi-media installation. Follow the jump to watch an interview with Mosse about the project where he discusses the subjective judgements about the nature of truth in photography his 'pink' images have prompted.
First here's the official description for The Enclave:
Throughout 2012, Richard Mosse and his collaborators Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost travelled in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, infiltrating armed rebel groups in a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. The resulting installation, The Enclave, is the culmination of Mosse’s attempt to rethink war photography. It is a search for more adequate strategies to represent a forgotten African tragedy in which, according to the International Rescue Committee, at least 5.4 million people have died of war-related causes in eastern Congo since 1998.
A long-standing power vacuum in eastern Congo has resulted in a horrifying cycle of violence, a Hobbesian ‘state of war’, so brutal and complex that it resists communication, and goes unseen in the global consciousness. Mosse brings a discontinued military surveillance film to this situation, representing an intangible conflict with a medium that registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, and was originally designed for camouflage detection. The resulting imagery, shot on 16mm infrared film by cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, renders the jungle war zone in a disorienting psychedelic palette. Ben Frost’s ambient audio composition, comprised entirely of recordings gathered in the field in eastern DRC, hovers bleakly over the unfolding tragedy.
And here's art and culture magazine Frieze's The Impossible Image interview with Mosse:
There's a lot that's of interest to be gleaned from the above interview, but for me one particular point struck a chord:
People are so offended by the color pink, it's just a fecking colour. Honestly like, how much more constructed is a pink photograph than a black and white photograph?
Mosse asks a valid question. We don't perceive the world in black and white, yet because of it's heritage, such images are unquestionably accepted as 'authentic'; so much so that many an image has had its color desaturated away to lend its subject more gravitas. But, as with all things captured through a lens, they're as much of a construct achieved through framing and timing as anything else. With his infrared images, Mosse invites us to stop and consider what he's documented in his 'impossible photography' and the tension which exists between ethics and aesthetics. Perhaps in doing so the invisible suffering he and others document will become visible.
The Enclave is currently on display across six screens in the Irish Pavilion at this year’s 55th Venice Biennale until November 24th.
What do you think of Mosses infrared images? Do they have the desired effect or could he have used conventional photography to draw attention to the humanitarian issues of Eastern Congo?