Haunted by a Painter's Ghost
Photography and Symbolism in the Digital Age

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ANDY BLACKMORE'S condemnation of editorial picture manipulation clearly struck a chord with readers to judge by the letters and emails received on this subject. But nobody is saying that manipulation is bad per se, only that it is bad when used in an editorial context where a viewer would not know or assume that it had taken place. And that ought to be fine by Dominic Rouse - whose early years were spent in Press Photography, but whose manipulated images do not pretend to be anything else.
As with so many exhibitions, a single image on a page cannot possibly do justice to the quality of Rouse's work: the only way to appreciate the prints properly is to go to the Plus One gallery at the north end of Seymour Place, London W1. Within the two-room venue Rouse's pictures are hung simply and boldly, contained within substantial wooden frames that isolate each print from its neighbour. The connecting doorway (without a door) provides further framing, and is entirely consistent with the compositions used in the images.
It is interesting to speculate which person Rouse had in mind when he titled his exhibition 'Haunted by a Painter's Ghost'; Magritte, Dali and Escher are all apparent - not to mention darkroom master compositor Hag. But while it may be nice to imagine that Rouse's pictures were also produced by the action of light and shade rather than pixels, any such discussion is in truth irrelevant. The only important question is the same in both cases: "How exactly did you create such masterpieces?" The answer will be revealed shortly, when BJP publishes an in-depth interview with Rouse.
Until then, go see the show and marvel at the work. Or maybe just feel slightly disturbed by it all.

Dominic Rouse's exhibition 'Haunted by a Painter's Ghost' is on show at Plus One Plus Two Galeries, 161-163 Seymour Place, London W1, until 02 March.

Jon Tarrant - The British Journal of Photography
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