About the Photographer
French, b. 1976
Trained as both a chemist and a photographer, Denis Roussel's photographic works evoke the similarities between scientific investigation and artistic practice. Conducting simple, pseudo-scientific experiments using materials like blood or sweat, he channels modes of scientific representation while responding to the ways in which the human body has been a central subject in recent art.
"Nowadays, science and art tend to be seen as two separate enterprises, with their respective means and ends," he writes, "In earlier civilizations, however, the scientist and the artist were often the same person. Art and science were two complimentary sources at which one could quench one's thirst for understanding and knowledge… Science has changed the way we look at the world both around us and within us; this work takes part in the search for an esthetic to communicate these changes."
In Blood Experiment 1, Roussell methodically documents the dispersion of a drop of blood as it enters a larger body of water. The work takes the form of a triptych with each of three panels depicting the experiment from a different perspective and as a sequence of sixteen images. This technique of photographing a physical process over time and presenting the results in a grid-like format recalls Eadward Muybridge's studies of human bodies in motion. In this case, however, Roussel's approach engenders a more pronounced tension between the veneer of scientific study, the visual impact of the repeating scarlet-colored shapes, and the viewer's potential response to a pool of spilled blood.
Roussel was born in 1976 in Nantes, France. He studied the chemistry of water treatment at the Ecole Nationale Superiure Chimie in Rennes, France, before completing an MA (2003) and an MFA (2004), both in photography, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.