Alison Scarpulla is an analog photographer using a 35mm film. She uses elements like wine and acid to edit the negatives giving her images a mysterious feel.This mystical effect is down to the grainy and blurred images, to enhance this effect she plays with light and shadow. The people she uses in her imagery are only shown dimly. It’s not the identity of the person that is important but the action and its relationship to the surroundings. She finds eerie legends and rituals as subjects in the photos. Their connection to nature and people is just as clear. She creates a world of mystery and morbidity, highlighted by the use of analog creating gritty images. Her work shows both fantasies and horror. Her work creates a dimension behind reality.
Initially Alison Scarpulla followed a small group of people using old russian film cameras and manipulated their film to look saturated and psychedelic. She found these images looked real and natural and was intrigued by the uniqueness.
The work she creates almost seems ‘nostalgic’ like a dream you can’t forget. Scarpulla said ‘somethings will always remain a mystery at this level of consciousness, Don’t try and solve all the mysteries.
Scarpulla has always appreciated images with desaturated colours, but the colours and graininess in her work comes from a mix of expired film, drug store processing. Her inspirations come from old books, different cultures, traditions and nature. She uses analog to create real work that isn’t perfect, creating work that can’t be recreated.
Working in the darkroom allowed her to understand that a photo consists of many chemical reactions, and got her thinking of ways to manipulate the process.
When creating her images she would shot the film then soak in a mixture of things laying around in her kitchen, this would include stale coffee, canned beer and the end of a bottle of kombucha. She would put the rolls of film back in the original container and pour in the liquid until it covered the film.She then capped them and had the rolls sat in a window in sunlight. After a few days she poured the liquid out and ran the film under water then put it in a bag of rice. In one of her pieces of work she put the film in between two pieces of bread to dry; after leaving it for a month the bread had gone mouldy with the film which she then washed off.
Other techniques she used to create he surreal dreamy effect is using double exposure, often using people intertwined with clouds. To double expose she would shoot on a roll, rewind it all the way and then reshoot over the roll.
Scarpulla rarely takes a photo with a concept, she follows her unconscious and intuitive behavior to allow creativity. She tries to represent the way she experiences her surroundings like an ‘imagined universe’. Her work is partially inspired by dreams but also the idea of escaping from a confined structure in this state of being.