What happened to that guy's face in the third photo?!
Richard Mosse's pictures of Congo draw from a different palette of colours, literally. Using recently discontinued Kodak infrared film, his photographs turn the vegetation of the eastern Congo into jarring magenta, while the soldiers' uniforms go purple. It feels as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole, into a more surreal space. Congo always felt that way to me, as if the regular colour spectrum, the usual yardsticks we have, do not quite hack it.
This Aerochrome infrared film was developed by the US military in the 1940s to detect camouflage and to reveal part of the spectrum of light the human eye cannot see. But where this technology was invented to detect enemy positions in the underbrush, Mosse uses it to make us call into question pictures we thought we understood. These are the images we take for granted from Congo: the ruthless militia commander, the rape victim, an unwitting peasant. But in Mosse's pictures, Congo's photographic clichés are represented in a counterpoint of electric pink, teal blue and lavender. By representing the conflict with an invisible spectrum of infrared light, he pushes us to see this tragedy in new ways.
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