Tag Archives: Richard Mosse

“A key method of perception for the military”

This project came up a while ago in the New Landscape Photography blog:

by Rebecca Sharplin Hughes, from "Greenham Common Landscapes"
by Rebecca Sharplin Hughes, from “Greenham Common Landscapes”

Greenham Common is land that was once heavily used by the Ministry of Defense and the US air force throughout World War II and the Cold War. Abandoned in 1997, it was left open for the public to roam….

Methods of perception in the military are just as important as physical weapons used for destruction, with infrared film being a key method of perception for the military. Therefore I photographed using infrared film to express the invisible happenings that occurred on the landscape. With rumors of nuclear activity and other unknown activities, it is a landscape that stands witness to many undisclosed goings-on.

Rebecca Sharplin-Hughes | New Landscape Photography

This is one of those cases where I’m rather more interested in the statement than the actual photos. Two things grab my attention: one, infrared, because I ❤ infrared, and two, deliberate investigation/redployment of the mediation of perception by technology. Very cool, in principle.

However, these don’t appear to be characteristically infrared images. They look like regular black and white, perhaps with a red filter. It may be that Sharplin-Hughes is using a modern infrared film without a strong IR filter.1 In any case, while it’s an interesting idea to use infrared as a sort of magical invocation of military vision, without a visible connection to some variant of infrared imaging, it all seems sort of notional.

Also, I wonder if it wouldn’t be more interesting to use a more military perspective—for example, an aerial one. That being an even more fundamental method of military perception.

  1. Modern infrared films are basically just standard panchromatic films with some added sensitivity in the infrared, and without a filter that blocks visible light, they don’t produce particularly “infrared” results.