Ultraviolet Garden
Rodrigo Gomes
02' 29" | 16:9 | 2018 | HD digital 1080p (,mov format)
Location : Baghdad 巴格達
In Ultraviolet Garden, objects are positioned on a chessboard as pieces of a strategy game where lenses, video cameras and magnifying glasses are components which reflect foundfootage images of a murder that occurred on 12 July 2007. This date marks a situation where two Reuters journalists died because the telephoto lenses from their cameras were mistaken as two RPG guns during the North American Army’s air strike against the New Baghdad district. Over three years, Reuters tried to access the video attack through the Freedom of Information Act Law without success. On 5th April 2010, the video became public under the name of Collateral Murder through Wikileaks.

In Ultraviolet Garden, a brief narrative is the means to a much larger one as it folds and unfolds various possibilities of meaning: on one level, the work is a narrative of technology, of a system that controls over images, and, on another level, the artist’s hand performs how the images of the world move like chess pieces, following a strategy focused on capturing a body, except that what it captures is a real physical body, and possibly more bodies that the image system did not “capture.” These images no longer protect the flesh, nor do they allow the formation of a body.

Ultraviolet Garden  presents itself as the choreography of bodies being destroyed. The metaphor of a garden with destroyed bodies as seeds ushers in a denunciation of something that may be called a system of visibilities and invisibilities that strengthen a regime of control that operates through the image. The image is then a way of exercising and perpetuating a position of power, a way that certainly encompasses more dimensions than the ones achieved by imaging techniques and technology in general. Nonetheless, it is via the army’s technological devices that they impose a re-structuration of the real space-time, generating a space-time for their own actions by manipulating reality through the editing of the images they obtain. A body tangled in a system of that sort is an infra-necessary, surplus body, whose only value is as an informative correlate in a topography of fixed dynamics. The body becomes irrelevant. Its irrelevance is already present in the specificity of this videographic recording that has evaded the control network that contained and produced it, and which shows us bodies being annihilated with the same ease as characters in video-games. But the irrelevancy is also felt in other information leaks of more recent years, such as, for instance, the ones set in motion by Edward Snowden when he revealed the existence of certain US cyber-vigilance programs that use servers from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or Youtube, both in the US and abroad.*

*This is based on an excerpt about the Ultraviolet Garden inserted in Hallo Excentrico, a book about the artist's work, written by David Revés, re-edited for this V-zine.

Editor’s note: the year “2017,” which appears at the end of the video, should be “2007.”

Original licenses

Public Domain Dedication (No COPYRIGHT)
Full credit list

Director : Rodrigo Gomes
Text : David Revés

Rodrigo Gomes is a media artist born in Faro, Portugal in 1991. He lives and works in Lisbon.

He is an emerging artist working in the fields of audiovisual sculpture, live audio/visual performance and new media. His works particularly explore the space among digital and physical entities by creating a hybrid relationship between architecture, sculpture and media arts with content generated by computer. He holds an MF A degree in Multimedia Art from the University of Lisbon, a postgraduate degree in Sound Art from the Faculty of Fine Art of the University of Lisbon as well as a degree in Visual Arts from the University of Évora in Sculpture.

He participated in collective and individual exhibitions, such as Alternative Film/Video Festival in Belgrade (Serbia) Video Art Miden Festival (Greece), Satellite Art Show NYC (USA), 18th Media Art Biennale WRO in Wroclaw (Poland), CosmiX III Incantation in Paris (France), “After the Bang” in Galeria Municipal do Porto (Portugal), “Aspekt! Aspekt!” at the WRO Art Center (Poland), “Among the stones there’s green” in Ocupart (PT), “Mammographies through Satellite” in The Room (PT), “How to deposit images on a bank Appleton Box (PT),” The New Art Fest in Nacional Society of Fine Arts (PT), FUSO festival in MAAT (PT), Sonae Media Art Award at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (PT).

In 2020, he won the Black Raven Award from The New Art Fest, in 2018 the Prémios Novos and in 2017 won the Sonae Media Art award. In 2019 he received a grant for international artistic production from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and a Merit Award – Young revelation from the Silves city council.


Keywords 關鍵字

Journalism, US Army, surveillance, Orwellian, media