Stepping outside of the box completely, we bring you something very unique for this blog. Edward Quist has been a New York-based multi-media artist working under the name of Embryoroom for 20 years.
His latest exhibit is called Theta Death which features his film “Network of Death” and three special rooms inspired and created specifically based on the elements of the film; Alpha (Entering the Subconscious), Beta (Behind the Mask/Administering Augmented Psychosis via Neuro Death Mask) and Theta (The Projection of Political Psychosis/Is the Inorganic the Final Solution?)
Theta Death is currently appearing in New York City at Macie Gransion (87 Rivington St) until October 29.
Edward’s site is at Embryoroom.com. I invite you to check out the site and the amazing work he does. Enjoy the interview….
Q: For the new reader, can you please give us a bit of a background on Embryoroom and your background as an artist?
A: Embryoroom has been in operation in one form or another for twenty years. It originated as a production identity in the mid 90’s, and shortly thereafter as a name I performed and released some projects under. To me it is more of a space for ideas that are both uneasily classifiable, and a different take on orthodoxy in art and media. I had no formal artistic training. I started at age sixteen as an intern at an ABC television show, and was later hired as a production assistant where I learned a great deal. In the meantime I was making short films and audio experiments. My first long form film was “I.L.” and that was produced while I was still an Intern in 1994.
Q: You are a multi-medium artist. Do you choose what you are working in based on your motivation or inspiration or theme?
A: Inspiration is everything. It always comes back to the very spacial moment that inspired the idea. If you stay close to the original “sprit” of the idea, it will most likely work out in the end.
Q: You have an installation opening in NYC, “Network of Death.” Talk a little bit about that, the inspiration and what you used to create it.
A: Yes! Network of Death is about five or so years in the making. It is a feature in the genre that I would identify as “Neuro Horror.” The exhibition features sculptures and projections that are elements in the film. The environment of the gallery has been tailored to be these very stark interrogation rooms. The object atop the central sculpture is The Neuro Death Mask, one of the engines that generate visuals/experiences for those unlucky enough to be behind the mask in the film. Essentially the masks can extract, or implant data in the form of memories, experiences, or raw sensory manipulation and so on.
Q: A recent work from 2016 was “The Black Vertebrate.” Are the clips in this designed to be viewed in progression? Give us a bit of the background on this piece, please.
A: The Black Vertebrate is 30-60 minutes depending which version you’re seeing. It’s a digital motion picture which has nine chapters that comprise another sensory experience that at its core has a highly structured abstraction, the namesake of the film, that is incubating, waiting to be released from the grips of a program. “The Black Vertebrate”, the film, is the process unfolding itself. It was in fact the overture for Network of Death. Network explains a bit more of what the Black Vertenrate process is, or means.
Q: With NYC being so flooded with artists and galleries, do you find it difficult to maintain a living and separate yourself apart from the masses?
A: I’ve been lucky, and what I do is still quite unusual in the New York scene, and the majority of people who tend to follow what I do are scattered on the coasts, or outside of the States.
Q: Are you more inspired by personal experiences, or are you more interested in influence from our outside world?
A: It’s a balanced mix of some very personal feelings and experiences, and osmosis of consensus reality, and finding the “right” angle to interpret “reality.”
Q: Your site notes that your work often meets at the “intersection of the subconscious and so called reality.” Is it your goal to leave the viewer with the feeling of having a psychological effect from the exhibit?
A: As raw and direct a psychological and sensory connection as possible. Cut out all of the bullshit exposition, and the bullshit elements, and people for that matter.
Q: You have had exhibits all around the globe. What kinds of differences in reactions have you seen from particular areas?
A: Europeans seem to be the most receptive at screenings. Some reactions have been literally violent, that was twice in South America. There seems to be a lot of Italian and Spanish support for the work. In the States its very outsider, techie, more attended by a mix of music scenes and gamers than traditional filmgoers. I hope that will evolve. I can’t complain.
Q: When you have exhibited in foreign countries, have you ever found yourself being questioned regarding some of the content of your work?
A: Yes, the intensity of the imagery and sound and so on. I hope there are always questions.
Q: What’s next for you in 2017 and 2018?
A: Screenings and live renditions of Network of Death at some interesting places. I’m shooting another feature, and collaborating with some very talented people on the sound and design end of things; Derek Gruen on a project called QVORG, and something developing with the sound engineer and artist Paul Kendall, some of which is currently on display at Macie Gransion.
Q: Imaginary situation: You’ve been approached by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. They are offering a generous commission to create an installation to share to the public. This commission could set you up for the next couple of years. They demand some controversial imagery that could run you the risk of getting in trouble. Do you ignore personal ethics, morals and public laws to create this for public display? Or do you decline the commission?
A: Art should be able to operate outside of morality in order to comment, observe and express minimum to maximum. Censorship is dangerous. Self censorship is creative death. Self control is another story. Anything that exploits children and animals would be abhorrent along with anything that is disrespectful of the human condition.
Q: Let’s say many many years down the road… one of your distant relatives locates a box in an old attic. Inside they find a variety of your work and the tools to view or listen to it. What do you hope this person understands about your legacy?
A: That I was honest no matter how hard the work attempted to lie to express the truth at the heart of the matter.
Here is a clip from a recent project from Embryoroom, not Theta Death.