Mosse’s successful use of the stock is built on a kind of matchmaking. In an essay from his upcoming Aperture book, he describes the landscape of eastern Congo as “Dr. Seuss,” a designation that, of course, bears traces of exoticist sentiment. That the stock was originally used for American surveillance, however, indicates Mosse’s purposefulness in this respect: these photos are a Conradian exploration of the apparent strangeness of Congo to Western eyes. That they at times depict the violent conflict currently happening in the area—so bafflingly atrocious and nightmarish to so many—emphasizes the point.
Some of the photographs’ titles are taken from rock songs by the likes of P.J. Harvey, the Rolling Stones and Can, highlighting Aerochrome’s psychedelic uses. Is Mosse viewing Congo merely as a head trip, making parallels between the jungle of central Africa and that of Vietnam, the latter so important to the visual aesthetic of the late 1960s and the 1970s? Perhaps, but he is also drawing attention to the inherent incongruity of the photojournalist’s task. In using a medium meant to suss out, Mosse finds more questions than answers, more abstraction than accuracy, and more beauty than realism.