Photographer Richard Mosse on blurring the lines between art
Now richard. Moss's photographic practice has resulted in some of the most arresting images of recent years as a conceptual documentary photographer. He draws on a range of esoteric photographic media to catch a so much more than meets the eye. Monaco's much. Larry spoke to richard to find out more about his unique and emotive work to those nine. I went to iraq. And i made a series of images essentially architectural project photographic project documenting the us forces who were based in the saddam hussein's palace architecture and saddam. Hussein had about eighty four palaces. All around iraq may which he never even visited when the us military arrived. They were so strategically well located for obvious. Reasons and very defensively built. They made pretty straight forward operating bases so they were occupied by the us military which i found fascinating just the layers of power and expression of that architecturally from the sort of provisional corporate office partitions and cubicles that the. Us army would hastily set up within the very pompous and often poorly built authoritarian architecture of saddam hussein which had a very specific style with some very strange eccentric ornamental features. Such as giant teapots and. Yeah it was very incongruous staff. And i brought eight by ten inch camera there and it'd be like that project and after that i realized frustrated with the medium documentaries over here. It's really so conservative as a language so reductive often. You're just an illustrator for writers texts if you're doing it at oriel which primarily. We're documenta over. Do i wanted to break it apart. Actually i wanted to somehow really smashes just for myself. It was a very personal desire to essentially as an expression of the frustration of with my own practice. I was at that time. Kodak was on its path to bankruptcy was announced had announced the discontinuation of this infrared film. Kodak erico two thousand ten. I think says nine around the time and so i thought well this is a wonderful way to unpack a documentary subject. I don't know what may be quite yet. But i gathered as much as i could off ebay and wherever it was being made extinct and i sort of worked backwards from the medium which i always tend to do actually to find to find effective subject or subjects that could be more adequately conveyed to be elevated through the medium through this particular medium and reading was a starting point for me over. The last ten years i've been working with spurred you call them infra-red film technology's very interested in the unseen registry invisible light forms as the way often metaphorically telling very complex documentary narratives more powerful way and to refresh very saturated subject matter for example the refugee crisis unfolding across europe the middle east north africa. Everybody photographer was out there taking pictures. And they all tend to look rather similar. And i really was. After a certain point the imagery just became inherently less compelling and less powerful as language. So i wanted to refresh my own way and i found this bizarre military grade thermographic camera that can image human body heat from thirty kilometres distance. Day or nice. It's classes weapon designed for battlefield situational awareness long-range insurgents detection tracking and targeting. So it was actually part of a weapon. System very sort of activated medium to think through the representation of the refugee crisis and also almost an aggravated one. Really confront the viewer. On some level with their own complicity. I believe and that was my intention to really make people feel that. And i think as an orange has that's one of the only things you can do is to make people feel something so i was working through metaphor aesthetics in this work but with that work with my project incoming its title and it was using this weapons technologies long range border enforcement technology. Thermographic heat-detection camera. I realized i was also operating in certain moments on another level beyond the metaphorical and beyond the aesthetic. And that was the the forensic after understand. The camera sees index heat register. You can calibrate for about forty degrees and anything. That's relatively cooler or relatively warmer within. That given frame is depicted in black or white depending on how you set the the recording set the image. And so something that's black. Could be everything that's warms. The human body would be depicted in black and everything cold surrounding him. Buddy will be waste for example or if you sell it. The other way white hart. It's the opposite. And i was filming this tragic event i've ever witnessed probably ever will. Hopefully it was one of the biggest human trafficking disasters on the gnc and human memory of three hundred people or more were on a on a fishing trawler was had paid to be on that boat from turkey to lead boss and human traffickers just packed that boat too many people who zone designed for perhaps twenty or thirty people so the top deck of the boat collapsed and doing panic entire hull ripped apart and we were able to capture all this from about seven kilometers away with camera designed exactly for this kind of thing and then when the bodies were brought to shore to the harbour of malvo's something store happy it was after dark at this point literally out on the cold stone pier they were lined up on thermal. Br red cross workers volunteers local doctors. Anyone who could could help out. Were were frantically trying to revive these hypothermic victim. Some whom passed out or semi drowned or some had had remain conscious. But we're literally freezing to death. And so they were literally what they were doing. Rubbing life-giving warmth from their hands into the flesh coddled flesh of the these hypothermic victims in front of us on the pier. Desperately trying to sort of transmit life-giving heat back back into them. Now a normal camera of course after dark wouldn't wouldn't be abc's very much let alone. Would it be able to see the trace of that of that transmission of warmth which the thermal camera was able to do incredibly effective articulation of exactly the crux of of the emergency unfolding around us. It was a of very powerful test. Testimonial footage of the the effort survive these people on the scale of a trauma around us. That was richard moss and do head over to our website to the full version of that interview.