|Photo by SCOTT WALSH|
Meeting at the intersection of the subconscious and so called reality, Edward Paul Quist's (Embryoroom) work is unclassifiable and stripped of the conventions of genre. His unorthodox use of intensive mesmerizing visuals through motion graphic manipulation is a continuous and evolving work. When it comes to creativity, “renaissance man” is a fitting name as he expresses himself as a director, writer, producer, composer, sound designer, photographer and documentarian. Edward recently took the time to give Volterock Anomalous a look inside the mind of Embryoroom.
Danny Hitt: What is Embryoroom?
Edward Paul Quist: As a function, it is at times the name under which I perform. At other times, it is a production entity. As a creative entity, it has always been a search to take any means, or processes of technology, and push them to their limit, especially in the domains of the sensory and psychological, particularly the subconscious. These are what inhabit the concept of Embryoroom.
Danny Hitt: As an artist you wear several hats, director, writer, composer, etc. Which medium are you most drawn to, and why?
Edward Paul Quist: Directing is the most alluring. It possesses all of the other components involved in the processes that you mentioned.
Danny Hitt: What inspired you to begin creating art?
Edward Paul Quist: I drifted into it. It started off in a conventional way, and I found that most everything that I turned out didn't quite fit in with convention. It was identifiable as art when I had the "ah ha!" moment, and it didn't make me want to erase the video tape. "This is something that I would want to see and hear." I've always looked for the "ah ha!" moment ever since. It's instinctive.
Danny Hitt: Did you, or do you, still find that there are additional challenges as an artist because your art is so unconventional?
Edward Paul Quist: Now, or then, there are always unforeseens, be they technical, logistical, or financial. At the start it was primarily the technical wrangle vs. cost. Now it's time vs. cost vs. orthodoxy. When is an appropriate time to release new material? It seems logical, but it's not always so clear cut. These simplistic morality tales with one hundred million dollar plus budgets are corroding experimentation, and even worse, perverting it. They obsess with realistic representational "action" using the height of technology. Give fifty talented experimental filmmakers, or artists, access to that same technology and time, and it would change the landscape as we know it for a fraction of the cost, probably without the good vs evil indoctrination.
Danny Hitt: Do you take altered consciousness into account when creating visual art?
Edward Paul Quist: Sleep deprivation is very effective for creating sound and some music, but useless for image. Usually, I'm attempting to alter my own consciousness in the process of cutting and generating motion graphics. For instance, they can be very hypnotic if effective, and in the process, time consuming, which has a missing time quality. The imagery has a life of its own. They are not just patterns or representations, but something far beyond that.
Danny Hitt: Do you identify with the term, “Renaissance Man”?
Edward Paul Quist: I can relate to Leonardo. There are numerous Renaissance men and women operating. Maybe I'm more of a "universal man", or being.
Danny Hitt: How would you describe the artist Edward Paul Quist?
Edward Paul Quist: Curious about being curious.
Danny Hitt: What sound do you love hearing the most, and why?
Edward Paul Quist: The wind in the trees. Foolishly, I went out into the pitch black of Super Storm Sandy to hear the most intense version of wind in the trees, and recorded it.
Danny Hitt: Whoa! It takes a dedicated artist to go to those lengths. With such unique audio, how did you incorporate that into your art? Do you have a link available to hear those Sandy recordings, or what they became?
Edward Paul Quist: Sadly that recording was nothing but crunchy white noise. It was more about being inside it, the ultimate power of nature. I'm not sure that I'd do that sort of thing again.
Edward Paul Quist: Others have labeled it as that. I do avoid genre, and almost always about face if I become aware of retreading others' tracks. It's looking into a void, or chaos, and reaching in to pull something out, and then trying to sculpt whatever is in hand. There are concepts, some complex while others simple, but it's the doing, and carrying out of the concept, that is unclassifiable.
Danny Hitt: What inspires you as an artist now?
Edward Paul Quist: Walking through the great museums and galleries in New York. The atmosphere of the city. Working with a close circle of creatives that I've known for years, the conversations, and throwing ideas in and out. The small incremental victories over technology that seems to have impeded decision, or given the illusion of more choice, ever moving towards the speed of light. Probably in the end, just the act of creating something from nothing as constantly as possible. Breaks are good, but not for too long.
Danny Hitt: Do you eat cereal? If so what’s your favorite?
Edward Paul Quist: I don't eat cereal, but my favorite serial is "Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe."
Danny Hitt: When you’ve been inspired as an artist, how do you decide which medium to express your inspiration through?
Edward Paul Quist: Usually, it's spontaneous. Switch on the drum machine, or reach for a pen, then start to write the idea, or crudely sketch the form and sort what is needed to carry out that idea, and then the next.
Danny Hitt: You were born in Brooklyn? Did you also grow up there?
Edward Paul Quist: Yes, born in the Sheepshead Bay zone, and grew up in the Midwood zone.
Danny Hitt: "SICMAN CONTROL" has a really cool, authentic 1950’s/1960’s Sci-Fi genre feel to it. Would you say you’ve been influenced at all by that genre/era of filmmaking?
Edward Paul Quist: Early cathode tubes, the primitive, or raw qualities that they produced along with the tube camera systems, are always very beautiful to me. "SICMAN CONTROL" was from 1999, a time when I was very involved with feeding signals through tubes and screens, and then manipulating them either in analog, or digitally. That's from where some of the imagery for "Kuvaputki" derives, among others.
Danny Hitt: When you are writing do you typically listen to music, or any type of audio stimulation? If so, what?
Edward Paul Quist: If I have a specific track that I've written and recorded, that might be on loop. More often, it's drones, or an oscillator. Electro acoustics are also very helpful to stimulate the mood to write, or sketch out ideas.
Danny Hitt: Do you remember the exact moment you realized you’re an artist and it’s time to follow your craft?
Edward Paul Quist: I can tell you that it happened in 1989.
Danny Hitt: What was the specific event or experience in 1989 that brought you to that realization?
Edward Paul Quist: It's difficult to elaborate further, so I'll just leave it at that for now.
Danny Hitt: How much is your art influenced by the ordinary, day to day practical aspects of life?
Edward Paul Quist: The subway during rush hour can drive me into my imagination with headphones blasting. The atmosphere of moving through any space combined with my current state of mind, for instance the city street, is an endless source of material. Where beauty, the elite, and the monstrous meet.
Danny Hitt: What’s a typical day like for you?
Edward Paul Quist: If shooting, I wake up at 5:30 AM, review and prepare the day's material, and head off to the location, or the studio. If it's editing that day, or installation work, I'll wake slightly later. The hours are usually long, and there are always chores that coincide with creating. I don't think an outsider truly grasps how time consuming it all is, particularly the solitary environment of editing. It can be a relationship killer!
Danny Hitt: Do you have a routine, or process you go through before you begin work each day?
Edward Paul Quist: Depending where I wake up, it's fairly unremarkable. Get coffee, check the weather, dress, ride the subway, arrive at the studio, get coffee, and see what can be done.
Danny Hitt: What software, and/or other technologies, do you use to create your visual art?
Edward Paul Quist: Standard programs like Final Cut and Logic, modular analog synths and distortion units, custom units for manipulating video, a few crude cannibalized things that I've put together, many different types of cameras and lenses, projectors, etc.
Danny Hitt: Do you consciously include subliminal ideas or messages into your visual art/musical compositions, or maybe just secret items/images only you are consciously aware of?
Edward Paul Quist: Yes, absolutely. That practice can range from amusing myself, to settling a score, or flashing an unspeakable truth. Although subliminal's have been around since before WWI in very sophisticated advertising, I think they have a very large role to play in the future.
Danny Hitt: How would you describe your style of art to someone just learning about you?
Edward Paul Quist: I would avoid description. Just experience it. Experimental would be an apt hashtag.
Danny Hitt: Math is by no means my strong point, but I feel like I’m detecting a mathematical theme, perhaps through the use of geometric patterns in a lot of your previous work like, “To Be Inside It/Electronic Terror”, “HOTCITY”, and “The Dummy” to name a few. Am I way off here?
Edward Paul Quist: Geometrics are as natural as the branches of a tree. At times I use a specific sequence of numbers to create a pattern, or structure, either for visuals, sound, or writing (cut ups). Random numbers can also produce some of the most amazing results. In the most recent work, the runtime is 33 minutes. Each minute symbolizes a bone in the spinal column. Frequently, in the sequences in those 33 minutes, math has been applied to ensure the frames are in constant alternation, forcing the images into their own screen space.
Danny Hitt: Who is your favorite filmmaker?
Edward Paul Quist: I couldn't pin it down to just one filmmaker. Have you seen "Once Upon A Time In The West"? That's just about one of the most perfect films in every way. The performance Henry Fonda gives is what every filmmaker wants. So is the score, and so on.
Danny Hitt: Have any of your films been described as "disturbing, but addictive”?
Edward Paul Quist: Disturbing, yes. That's a consistent remark. I've heard that the nature of the imagery in general referred to as addictive. One doesn't really know.
Danny Hitt: What kind of reactions to your films have you received?
Edward Paul Quist: It's always divided. As time goes by, and for the relatively small number that have seen the films or shows, reactions and opinions evolve, or devolve. Because I've resisted releasing physical versions for some time, and have long abandoned things like Youtube, the only way to see the full form films has been at screenings. Depending on the environment, galleries, festivals, or museums, the reactions are quite individually divergent. The tendency is that the younger, or older the viewer is, the more positive the reception. The middle 35-55 age groups tend to be a bit more resistant. I've had standing ovations, and ambivalent confusion. Walk outs, and walk ins. The live multi-media performances of "The Untiled" had good reactions.
One screening experience which I will not forget was in Buenos Aires at Cine Cosmos, a beautiful theater, at a three day screening of "Kuvaputki" (2000), each with a Q&A after. A man in the audience, who was somehow odd, had a number of questions, which through translation I understood to be equally odd. He was there on nights one and two. On night three, I waited at the bar for my call to go in and do the Q&A. It was very close to the end of the runtime. I happened to turn to the entrance of the theater when the doors swung open, and the odd man from night one and two ran towards me at top speed. He went right for my throat and proceed to strangle me while screaming "Why did you make this?! What does it mean?! Are you trying to kill with brainwash?!" The bartender leapt over the bar with a knife, and several other good people rushed over and rescued me. So I can say the reactions are varied, and some attitudes have changed.
Danny Hitt: On the surface most would say that’s a terrifying experience. But from an artist’s perspective such as yours, was some part of you deep down thinking, “Yes, my art has made a deep impact on someone.”?
Edward Paul Quist: I hope that it does affect the "experiencer." An effect from something that is approaching its own genre, or very akin to what could be called "neurohorror", is difficult to gauge. The immersion of the viewer in the experience that is not necessarily immediately defined by character, or narrative, but by a visual audio experience that attempts to immediately connect to sensory perception, is an unapologetic manipulation. "The Black Vertebrate", in particular, is a relentless assault on the senses. It's as if one is trapped inside an artificial intelligence that is breaking down in some unknown realm of psychosis.
Danny Hitt: What bands/musicians are you currently listening to?
Edward Paul Quist: I've listened to Kveikur again recently, experienced a striking set by Article Collection, and Krzysztof Penderecki's 80th birthday concert at The Thalia.
Danny Hitt: Across all mediums you work within, what three pieces are you most proud of, be it a film, script, musical composition, etc.?
Edward Paul Quist: The yet to be released "Untitled", which in fact does have a title. It's been an all encompassing process, spanning years of work, and still ongoing. "The Dummy" (1994), is evergreen in many ways. It involved many of the people that i still work with in some capacity. The track "Bug" (2005), which was recorded between Berlin and New York with Del Marquis in the end, it captures a moment and atmosphere from a darker point in my life perfectly.
Danny Hitt: You have a new project coming out. What is it called, and what can you tell us about it?
Edward Paul Quist: Titled "The Black Vertebrate", it's an overture for the next phase of output. It touches on, at its core, a certain darkness that is both amorphous, in the space of a void being reined in, and highly structured, with the spine entity continually transformed, and its other subject, or anthropomorphic figure, caged. As I mentioned above, it is Artificial Intelligence with psychosis. Visually it is the most intense work to date. The imagery was developed over the past two years or so, and sections of the soundtrack, which are mostly bio- electronic driven, reach back much further. Two versions were developed, a 33 minute installation/multi-media performance, and a more narrative feature length. The other side of the project is environmental.
One of the conceptual sources is based on a Japanese meditation chamber in a prison execution block. The room has all together been a large effort, and we have had to keep it under wraps for some time. It's good to be able to start to reveal what’s been occupying so much time and creative energy. I think the results have been quite satisfying.
To coincide, Envoy Gallery will be releasing a new series of limited edition photo prints, and beyond that, over the next year or two, there should be more frequent output along with some interesting collaborations. I've spent a long time without releasing new material "officially" intentionally, especially physically. I think it's been seven years. In the interim, there's been extensive R&D, a lot going on out of view. Until it's ready, it's not going to leave its cage. If you follow on social media, etc., one can have glimpses into the cage, but it will be a different animal if released.
Danny Hitt: If this interview was the last time you could express your thoughts to the world, what would you say?
Edward Paul Quist: The last time? I'd leave on a bright note. Be kind to one another within reason, to animals, unless they are trying to kill you, the Earth, and beyond. Keep moving forward, and never ever give up despite the entropy.
Danny Hitt: Where can people find and follow you online, and possibly see your exhibits?
Edward Paul Quist: Currently https://www.artsy.net/envoy-
Danny Hitt: What is the best way to stay up to date with your future art?
Danny Hitt: How can others reach you to be booked for performance?
firstname.lastname@example.org , http://www.embryoroom.com/#!
Danny Hitt: Is there anything you’d like to add, or share?
Be seeing you…