Soen Settanni mines the collective unconscious in his imagery


"My process is all analog 35mm and 120mm film.  I develop all my film at home and print in the darkroom.  I use lith chemistry as well as other chemical toning practices when making enlargements.  I also experiment with souping film in various household items like tea, wine, and lemon juice.  I work a lot with double exposures and long 1-8 second exposures when shooting." 


See more of Soen's work on instagrm at @soen_tense








ALTER/ANALOG:  What got you interested in photography?


SS:  I inherited several 35mm cameras from my father who is a lover of photography, I didn't take it very seriously at first and shot 1 roll and left it in the camera for over 4 years and forgot about it.  When I finally came around to developing it, I was overcome with excitement and fascination at the ability of the film to hold the memory of those moments kind of like a time capsule.  There was something so ephemeral and magical there and I began to invest further in exploring film photography and all the various styles and approaches within the art form as a whole. 


ALTER/ANALOG:   Why did you choose film over digital as your medium?

SS:  The grain and warmth that film conveys has a quality and a mystery that digital pictures seem to lack for me.  Also I'm a very physically oriented person, and I obsessively need to do everything with my hands.  I love having a part in every process of creating an analog image, everything from taking the picture and imprinting the film with a quality and moment of light, to soaking the film in various chemicals for various times to achieve particular results, to enlarging the images on photographic paper in a darkroom and manipulating the image there.  All these parts of the practice are very meaningful and rich to me.  The process is bit like a mystical alchemy and an act of transformation of intangible moments of energy into more tangible yet mutable fragments..


ALTER/ANALOG:  Do you have a theme to your photos?


SS:  I'm very interested in human psychology and the subconscious.  I find that I'm often attempting to portray an internal cosmology of various states of mind and emotion that are both my own and also a part of the collective.  I'm often drawn into the allure of what is hidden and buried from my conscious mind and from our collective consciousness whether due to social or religious conditioning or due to the paradoxical fear of death and the unknown.  I sort of imagine these pictures as pinhole dioramas that feature theatrical psychological scenes on the other side of the looking glass.  Inside them we can explore our hidden side, our troubled mind, our primal nature, our repressed sexuality and perhaps be challenged by it, celebrate in it, and revel in it.  Some people look at my pictures and are taken aback by how dark and eerie they seem to be.  In turn, you could say that I'm very attracted to the mesmeric power of an image and its ability to cunningly pursued a viewer into looking at something they feel or think that they should not be looking at.  


ALTER/ANALOG:  What inspires you?  

SS:  I'm very inspired by mythology, occultism, and symbolism down through the ages and how we've reinterpreted various symbolic images and subjects of meaning over time.  You could say that I see making pictures as a way of contributing to the mythological narrative of our timeline, sort of the way people do when they design tarot cards.  I'm also very inspired the work of other artists in the realm of surrealist photography and gothic photography.

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