Richard Mosse
Broken Spectre

Devastation in the Amazon rainforest and the climate change it triggers tend to unfold in ways that are too vast to comprehend, too minute to perceive, and too normalised to see. In an attempt to render the scale and urgency of the Amazon’s extensive, impending collapse, Richard Mosse’s most ambitious work to date employs a dazzling array of photographic techniques.

Broken Spectre is an immersive, 74-minute film that shifts between a manifold of ecological narratives, from the topographic to the anthropocentric, and to a careful examination of nonhuman violence and survival. Mosse and his team spent years documenting different fronts of destruction, degradation and environmental crimes in the Amazon Basin and related eco-systems.

Broken Spectre operates on multiple scales: inky, fluorescent microscopic imagery describes the interdependent complexity of the Amazonian biome in scientific detail, while cinematic monochrome infrared scenes track illegal mining, logging and burning, industrial agriculture and indigenous activism.

Meanwhile, airborne multispectral footage starkly renders vast swathes of empty land in contrast to the lush rainforest, showing the vast scale and systematic organisation of the Amazon’s destruction.

In accompanying photographic works, Mosse renders the invisible visible: through multispectral cameras that emulate satellite imaging technology, alongside ultraviolet botanical studies, and heat-sensitive analogue film warped, mottled and degraded by the oppressive environment and by the burning forest itself. Accompanying these experimental documentary works are Mosse’s hypnotically vivid aerial maps, which zoom out and colourise the scale and extent of natural decimation in piercing detail, employing specially-made Geographic Information System (GIS) imaging technology.

As climate change continues to define our era and the future of the planet, Mosse bears witness to a rapidly unfolding catastrophe: recent scientific studies predict that the Amazon is close to reaching a tipping point, at which stage it will no longer be able to generate rain, triggering mass forest dieback and carbon release at devastating levels, impacting climate change, biodiversity, and local and international communities. Mosse shows both human sides of the tragedy: from the Yanomami and Munduruku Indigenous communities fighting for survival; to illegal gold miners poisoning and destroying entire river systems for tiny handfuls of gold; alongside Brazilian cowboys wilfully burning their pristine surroundings to create pasture for cattle to sell on international meat and leather markets.

Created from 2018 to 2022, Broken Spectre is published ahead of gravely significant general elections in Brazil, in which Jair Bolsanaro’s victory may seal the destruction of the irreplaceable Amazon forever.

Credits

Director / Producer
Richard Mosse

Cinematographer / Editor
Trevor Tweeten

Composter / Sound Design
Ben Frost

Digital Colorist / Post-Production
Jerome Thelia

Film Processing and Studio Manager
Matthew Warren

Film Processing Advisor
Cary Kung

Film Processing Assistant
Kimin Kim

Film Scanning
Metropolis Film Lab

Fixers / Translators
Gabriel Bogossian, Alejandro del Solar Bravo, Alessandro Falco, Marco Lima, Gabriel Uchida

Production Assistant
Diana Morales Ocegueda

Driver
Edimar Tozzo

Helicopter
Aéreo Especial

Multispectral Camera engineer
Jeffrey Carson, Spectral Devices

35mm Camera Rental
Hand Held Films

Sound Engineers
Mike Amacio, Carlos Boix

Advisor
Jon Lee Anderson

Cloud Forest Guides
Alex Guevara, Arlette Arn, Finca Palmonte

Yanomama Translator
Ana Maria Antunes Machado

Funding and Support

Broken Spectre was co-commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, VIA Art Fund and the Westridge Foundation, and by the Serpentine Galleries. Additional support provided by Collection SVPL and Jack Shainman Gallery.

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Exhibition: 10 October – 4 December at 180 Studios, 180 The Strand, London
© Richard Mosse 2022