The G8 conference in Gleneagles may have been somewhat overshadowed but we still saw our fair share of protesters gearing up for the big event along with security sending in reinforcements. What we didn’t see in any detail was the extent to which the surrounding area, especially the landscape, was affected by the sudden influx of security personnel in an attempt to transform the zone into one suitable to house the likes of George W et al. Jules Spinatsch does not provide us with images of Gleneagles in Temporary Discomfort Chapter I-V, but no doubt he was there, forensically working on Chapter VI of his mission.
This beautifully printed book with minimal black cover, that resembles more a secret dossier than a work of photography, begins in Davos, Spinatsch’s hometown, at the World Economic Forum in 2001. In recording this and the four other major WEF and G8 summits since 2001, Spinatsch took the aim of his mission to observe, surveillance-style, the intense security measures as they were put in to place just hours before the delegates were due to arrive. He has turned his camera away from the protesters and world leaders to scrutinise those responsible for the peace-keeping effort. We are presented with vacant, snow-covered landscapes in Davos, sneakily captured at night, along with glimpses of early morning at an abandoned Genoa coast.
When we reach Davos for a second time, Spinatsch has chosen another angle resulting in more aesthetically pleasing and complicated pictures. His large grid pieces, spanning 20 metres long when completely assembled, are composed of hundreds of images taken from a system of surveillance cameras devised by Spinatsch. The result is a painterly, big brother comment on security and the power to meticulously capture minute details.
Each image in the book is complete with data-like captions, alluding to the covert nature of these observations of key hot spots. The texts at the back of the book, reproduced on a different paper stock, provide us with the opinion of Nato official Jamie Shea and writer Martin Jaeggi on the work and context present within Spinatsch’s book. Temporary Discomfort represents yet another shift within the genre of documentary photography. Analytical repetition to the point of obsession on a certain subject such as this provides for a thorough and absorbing body of work. Hopefully there will be a Chapter VI and we will see yet another new approach at disturbing the barriers and creating further thought-provoking images.