Humanitarian Conflict Beautifully Captured On Kodak Aerochrome Film

Accomplished photographer Richard Mosse has taken an incredibly unique approach to capture both the beauty and tragedy associated with conflict. In his most recent series, Infra, Mosse uses an antiquated film to bring new light to the humanitarian struggle faced by the Congolese people. Currently on display at the Portland Museum of Art as The Enclave, Mosse's newest exhibit features a six screen video instillation in addition to his dramatic Kodak Aerochrome imagery. Capturing the suffering of war between The Congolese National Army and rebel factions in poignant beauty, this exhibit of infrared film leaves an eerie perspective of the overwhelming harshness of war. 

Kodak Aerochrome was created in the 1940's as reconnaissance technology to identify and separate enemy forces that may be camouflaged in vegetation. Using infrared technology, the film captures live chlorophyll from plants and translates it in pink and red hues. Any combatants otherwise hidden would stand out against the bubble gum colored forest. Mosse decided to take this technology and put it to use in the lush rain forest of The Democratic Republic of Congo. Using the incredible and beautiful color hues of this film, Mosse is able to create the juxtaposition of beauty and suffering. In an interview with Frieze, Mosse states:

Beauty is one of the mainlines make people feel something. It's the sharpest tool in the box. If you're trying to make people feel something, if you're able to make it beautiful... then they'll sit up and listen. Often if you make something that is derived from human suffering, or from war... it creates an ethical problem in the viewers mind[.]

He continues to state that this antonymic approach is a way to get the viewer to sit up and listen. "You've gotten them to actually think about the act of perception and how this imagery is produced and consumed." In this exhibit Mosse's photography is on display next to 16mm video footage to create an additional dimension of perception though time. The video exists as the more "aggressive micro view" and the photography acts as a broader documentation of the conflict - "a slow burn approach". Together they create an elevated depiction of the situation, forcing the viewer to think deeper about what they are experiencing.

The Enclave is currently on display at Portland Museum of Art, November 8, 2014 – February 8, 2015

The Enclave, DHC/ART, Montreal, October 16, 2014 – February 8, 2015

Richard Mosse: The Enclave, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, February 6 – May 25, 2015

Photo by Richard Mosse - Courtesy of The Jack Shainman Gallery

Platon 2012 - Photo by Richard Mosse - Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

Safe From Harm 2012 - Photo by Richard Mosse - Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

Let Love In - Photo by Richard Mosse - Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

The Enclave - Photo by Richard Mosse - Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

The Enclave - Photo by Richard Mosse - Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

via [JackShainmanGallery, Frieze & Mascontext]

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Jason Hudson is a writer and photographer living in Central Coast California. Jason is currently a full time photographer and designer at a reputable branding firm and has freelance clients ranging from GoPro, Phillips, Outdoor Magazine and more. For inquiries about Jason's work, The Keller Whale, visit

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I think it's the second time this is posted here...

EDIT: Yep.

Simon, thanks for noticing. The article you cited indeed discusses the use of the Aerochrome film. While it def does discuss the same artist and his methods, this article discusses Mosse's current art instillation using 16mm video. Additionally it goes in depth more on the journalistic subject matter of his exhibit in addition to the unique medium of the IR film. Hope you have a moment to check out that vid... pretty powerful stuff!

Before we start another discussion about channel mixers and photoshop, go see the images in person. I was lucky enough to see "Platon 2012" as well as "The Enclave" in person at the MoCP in Chicago, and can assure you that your crappy little digital files won't do justice to the impact these images carry with them at an exhibit. Also this is the stuff why you attend artschool and get an understanding of photography that goes beyond using M mode.

I'm jealous you were able to see the exhibit... It looks incredibly powerful!

Interesting concept. I'm surprised he was able to obtain as much of this film as he did. I remember back in the early 2000s trying to find the spin-off of this, E-6 35mm Kodak Infrared color film a while back, only to find out it had been discontinued. Last time I obtained some of that was in the late 90s. I'll have to assume he processed this in either E-6 or C-41.

I'm pretty certain the process is C-41.

I was lucky enough to see this in the RHA, Dublin. You're free to sit or stand where you wish and the feature loops constantly. My girlfriend at the time and myself sat right in the center and it was incredibly striking as the screens constantly changed. The sound was also amazing. I highly recommend anyone that has the opportunity to go see this.