As sad and as unfortunate as it may sound, war has the uncanny capacity to spawn an overflow of artistic output. The installations and exhibitions that come out of war throw new light on the motivation for conflict and the responses to conflict by soldiers. Art pieces inspired by war also highlight the widely varying interpretations of the effects of battle on not only the combatants but also on the larger population affected by the war. Needless to say, work of this nature is important to society.
Richard Mosse’s Incoming
Richard Mosse all too well understands the devastating effect of war. Mosse teamed up with electronic composer Ben Frost and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten to produce Incoming, a moving and powerful video installation that captures the experience of refugees and the migrants along the war-torn regions of Syria, Senegal, Afghanistan, Iraq as well as Somalia.
The military camera used in this project
Mosse utilized an innovative camera embedded with weapons-grade technology that allows a photographer to observe and capture images of people over 30 km away. The technology in the military telephoto camera is so high tech that it allowed Mosse to capture human beings as Missiles would see them, capturing unseen elements such as body heat that would otherwise be impossible to capture with a traditional camera.
Videos: Richard Mosse speaks about Incoming, 2018
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These elements allowed the exhibition to speak for itself, to pass across the astonishing message of suffering and chaos that people in war-torn areas experience every day. Incoming succeeded in reminding human beings about the tragedy that is war. The military camera added firm artistic violence that dehumanized and humanized the subjects at the time. The people captured were portrayed in zombie form, stripping each subject of their ‘humanness’, so to speak.
Richard Mosse has never been one to shy away from pieces that display terrible beauty, which has by now become his signature trademark. Because he utilized multiple screens to come up with the images, from the outside looking in, the pictures appear disorienting and chaotic. However, if you stare at the photos long enough, the visceral emotion that overpowers you is truly spellbinding.
The dramatic effect on the faces and the figures captured is what made Incoming remarkable. The images appear ghostly one minute and the next, they are so still that they look like marble statues. In making us understand what it is like for the people in these areas through the lens of a military-grade camera, Mosse managed to create terrible, beautiful images. At the same time, he asks human beings to be ashamed and stunned by the consequences of war.