This is a diversion – it’s my notes from a look at the Richard Mosse exhibition at the Open Eye in Liverpool. I went because I find the pictures intriguing, the technology interesting, and I’ve followed the debate a little. This is what I saw – avoiding most of the accompanying text – and wrote down later. It’s therefore very subjective, and full of personal cultural reference.
This is the photo that hooked me in … I found it on the net a while ago, looking for something else – my initial thought > pinup photo circa 1980s. All that pink. Me in my smart uniform and flashy watch.
All that contrast and magenta is an effective tool to hook you in. How clearly you can see huts, animals, tracks, the lines of the land – with this technology. Looking at one of the landscape photos across a village, picking out people and compounds and domestic activities. Tiny, tiny people walking along the road, trying to distinguish men, women, children, by their shape and body language.
Big landscapes, volcanoes, mud – an old memory of black mud and lorries churning through > looking for evidence of my memory. A familiar scene of lads pushing a car, I’m looking for the mud – but the road is dry.
Soldiers – their physical body shape > square and compact, closed faces, uniforms neat, good wellies (always check what people have on their feet). What are the teenagers wearing? – football shirts, Obama shirts – we can’t remember the real colours of the American flag without thinking about it. Oranges and yellows look great with this film.
Centred image of a hut and banana tree enclosed in heavy, dense magenta foliage. Remember the suffocating feel of hot damp rainforest. These pictures with their careful arrangements are like Victorian terraced drawing rooms with heavy lace curtains and pot plants centred on the windowsill.
Lads, groups and troops of lads with guns, lads and guns arranged amongst the flowers – Victorian drawing rooms again, dressed up for a family photo next to the best pot plant. Remembering a photo shop with a magical room at the back with three or four stylised sets where you could pay to have your photo taken (somewhere in Morocco). Wedding photos. Formal arrangements – another old memory of people posing for photos > this is my family, these are my best clothes, this is my bike and radio. Photo booths and borrowing the clothes to be photographed in. Trophy photos – these are my kids dressed up and arranged on the sideboard (remembering scratchy clothes, being too close to my sister, not being allowed to move, itchy…)
The photographer stands a long way back – very observational, patterns of people. See this in the videos too. Also, cute sheep and twisted concrete, then the reality check. What is it about ruined buildings – why are they so entrancing?
Moving upstairs (Simon Norfolk) to find a nice horizon photo of a desert and a big sky with two tiny sharp horseriders on the beach – they’re walk into photos, nice ones to have on the wall to stare into when you’re on the phone. The rest of the room is photos of shrines – their purpose I guess, is focussing on the memory. Wrecked buildings have more power, are more intriguing, more open-ended. And downstairs again, another video clip purposefully circling around the shrapnel, which parallels walking along a beach, picking at old plastic bottles, crates, beercans, bits of turquoise nylon twine, looking for clues and nice arrangements.
And finally on the pink film – altering realities make things more intriguing. As kids, looking at the world through transparent coloured sweet wrappers.