At the Venice Biennial running through november 2013, you’ll find a pavillion, the Irish pavillion, with Richard Mosse’s six screen film installation. The series Richard Mosse brought to Venice is called ‘The Enclave’ (made with cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and composer Ben Frost) and the first thing you’ll notice are the wonderful pink or magenta landscapes. They’re not real. Actually, the colors of the result of using a special type of film that only registers infrared light. Why use something like that? ‘Cause it looks cool?
(images by Tom Powel Imaging inc, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery)
There’s a bit more to it. The film type is actually a disused military surveillance film. It’s originally intended to aid in camouflage detection, it helps to see the enemy. The area the film was made was Congo, where millions have died in war since 1998. Most of us aren’t aware of the seriousness of the situation. The horrors going on in the Congo are hardly communicated in the media. The conflict seems intangible and the film catching only the infrared light that we can’t see represents that intangibility. The soldiers are set in a pink, psychedelic landscape, making the scene’s unreal. The colors, the light, and what’s really going on just don’t match.