Mr. Rome tends to steer away from conventionally picturesque scenes. He likes to shoot off the path into the sort of dense, messy, ordinary growth that the trail is designed to quickly bypass. At first, the square, medium-size prints may look like formalist exercises in which the all-over textures created by tree trunks, branches and leaves produce the photographic equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting. Study them for a bit, however, and a mysterious interior complicated by shadows and sunbeams and quickened by some spiritual immanence emerges. Perhaps this is the way the woods looked to Thoreau and Emerson: subtly alive with pantheistic energy”. KEN JOHNSON, the New York Times.
In my most recent work, abstraction uproots subjects in my pictures and releases them from their familiar associations. These images become a form of guided hallucination, suggestive of curious but recognizable patterns that I have encountered in nature. I use real places to draw out connections that are analogous to maps of interior emotional and intellectual states. My intention is to create a bridge between the recognizable world and thoughts or impressions of other possibilities and even impossibilities.
In previous work, I photographed in distant places such as Latin America and Indonesia and examined the relationship between people and their environment. I documented ceremonies that revealed the active dialog with nature achieved through trance and possession. This experience provided me with an alternate viewpoint. It allowed me to see the multiplicity of perspectives that might be possible. Through my travels I discovered ways of seeing the natural world as a communicating entity and learned to see the landscape as living pattern. As a photographer, I look for alternative world views to the version of materialist culture in which I live. I have used examples found in mythology to unlock hidden worlds, which hold clues to alternatives for our prevailing cultural standard.
The photographs I am currently working on were made with-inside living, giant redwoods and sequoia trees; some over three thousand years old and are a small remnant of their species. The views from deep inside their dark interior, lit only by brief sunlight reveals an array of strange and nearly recognizable imagery. To the tribal group that have been their care takers for millennia, these hollow core trees are considered sacred space; They can be secret passageways to an underworld, places in which to make contact with the powers and forces which will eventually make their way into the world of light.
The images are made from with-inside ancient, living redwoods and sequoias in the American west. These giant trees’ hollowed-out from millennia of lightning strikes and fires, form apertures to the sky and the canopy above. Though hollow, these trees remain very much alive and their charcoal dark interiors reveal strange shapes that suggest a passage from one recognizable world to one that is like a waking dream.
For me, every process in picture making is a vehicle for considering meaning. The choice of black and white materials simplifies chaotic imagery into a form where a new visual order appears.
Over the course of my decade of work on this project, Oculus: I have learned that amongst other amazing qualities, these trees: communicate through a vast network of fungus filaments to move water and nutrients to other trees in need that could be miles away; were and still are considered sacred, ancient ancestors by the Yurok tribes though the only work available to those tribes was cutting them down. This is a project that for me has profound aspects relating to long term loss of natural habitats for short term gain as well as an appreciation for what still remains.