The devastation in the Amazon rainforest and the climate change it causes tend to unfold in ways that are too vast to understand, too small to perceive, and too normalized to see.
In an attempt to depict the scale and urgency of the Amazon's widespread and imminent collapse, Richard Mosse's most ambitious work to date employs a dazzling array of photographic techniques. Broken Specter is an immersive 74-minute film that moves between a variety of ecological narratives, from the topographical to the anthropocentric, and a careful examination of violence and non-human survival.
Mosse and his team spent years documenting different fronts of environmental destruction, degradation, and crime in the Amazon Basin and related ecosystems. Broken Specter operates on multiple scales: fluorescent and tint microscopic images depict the interdependent complexity of the Amazon biome in scientific detail, while cinematic monochrome infrared scenes trace illegal mining, slash-and-burn, industrial agriculture, and indigenous activism. Meanwhile, aerial multispectral imagery clearly shows vast expanses of empty land set against lush rainforest, showing the sheer scale and systematic organization of Amazon destruction. In the accompanying photographic works, Mosse makes the invisible visible: through multispectral cameras that emulate satellite imaging technology, along with ultraviolet botanical studies and heat-sensitive analog 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 color the scale and extent of natural destruction in penetrating detail, employing specially designed Geographic Information System (GIS) imaging technology. As climate change continues to define our era and the planet's future, Mosse witnesses a rapidly unfolding catastrophe: recent scientific studies predict that the Amazon is close to reaching a tipping point, a stage at which it will no longer be able to generate rain, causing massive forest dieback and carbon release at devastating levels, impacting climate change, biodiversity, and local and international communities. Mosse shows the two human sides of the tragedy: the Yanomami and Munduruku indigenous communities struggling to survive; the illegal gold miners who poison and destroy entire river systems for tiny handfuls of gold; alongside Brazilian cowboys deliberately burning their pristine environment to create pasture for cattle to sell on international markets for meat and leather. Created between 2018 and 2022, Broken Specter is published on the eve of the high-profile general elections in Brazil, in which the victory of Jair Bolsanaro could forever seal the destruction of the irreplaceable Amazon.
342 photos and film frames
Embossed soft cover sewn by sections in various types of paper with folds