PDN Photo of the Day

Mapping Refugee Camps in Cold and Heat

In his new series “Heat Maps,” Richard Mosse uses a military-grade, telephoto thermal camera to record scenes from the refugee crisis in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. On view in a show opening tomorrow at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City that runs until March 11, the large-scale images present a disorienting view of scenes ranging from informal camps in Idomeni, Greece, on the Macedonian border to neat rows of tents in the Hellinikon Olympic Complex, south of Athens. Each image is constructed from close to a thousand smaller frames that record thermal radiation coming from camp fires, lights and human body heat, each made using a robotic, motion control tripod to hold the camera. Showing heat rather than light and flattened by the camera’s great distance from its subject, the images read more like maps than photographs, tracing an inhospitable-looking landscape.

Also included in the show are stills from a multi-­screen video installation, Incoming, which premiers in London later this month and uses the same camera to record scenes related to the causes and effects of the refugee crisis. As with his project “The Enclave,” which used Kodak Aerochrome film to depict conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mosse is once again using the technology of war “against its intended purpose of border and combat surveillance to map landscapes of human displacement,” the press release states.

Related Stories:
Tender Portraits from the Refugee Crisis
Photographing the Unseen with the Last Infrared Film
Sea of Humanity (from the digital edition of PDN’s February 2017 issue)

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