“Were it not for the pain to be found in the wider world I might not have sought sanctuary in the confinement of my own where I have discovered an endless supply of the raw materials needed to make the images I do.” (Dominic Rouse (born in 1959) – The Artist’s Journal, December 2005)
Of all the arts perhaps music and photography offer the richest opportunities for experimentation because of their dependence on machines. As Mozart’s violins, harpsichords, and pianos of classical music were supplemented with newer machines like electric guitars and synthesizers (and even amplification) the sound of music changed and so did the music itself. But the need to explore the human condition through music and the mind of the creative musician is still the foundation of music in spite of all the instrument and style changes over the centuries.
The same can be said for photography. Whether considering P H Emerson and his albumen prints or Edward Weston to Jerry Uelsmann with their work with gelatin silver or for that matter Dominic Rouse with his digitally montaged images, it’s the mind of the photographer and his exploration of the fundamental questions of life and death, love and loss, meaning and chaos that make photographic art captivating.
Dominic Rouse would be the first to admit that his use of the camera and the darkroom are unusual. Photography as a wide and varied community of folks is a very big tent indeed and his corner of photography has few fellow travelers. Contemporarily Jerry Uelsmann comes to mind. But when I think of his work I think more of the painters Bruegel, Hieronymus Bosch and René Magritte. Rouse does not photograph the world he makes photographs of his mind. Looking at his images is a profoundly different experience than looking at, say, an Ansel Adams photograph. With Adams one prepares for his photographs by reading John Muir. With Rouse one prepares by reading Lewis Carroll, or even Freud.
His images are challenging because the questions he asks in his images are challenging themselves. In my interview with him, he quotes Picasso who said that computers are useless because they only give you answers. Rouse’s photographs pose far more questions than they answer and I suspect that is precisely his intention.
–Brooks Jensen, 2007