Space exploration has been on the minds and imaginations of humans for ages, long before rockets and spacesuits were even a remote possibility. Digital artist Edison William creates incredible surrealistic space scapes straight from his dreams and visions of what lies in the great unknown. As a photographer, photo manipulator and collage artist, William defies reality in his images, often placing Earthly entities into space and onto imagined planets.

The first installment of S.P.A.C.E. was on display at Brew Five Points during June and July of 2017. The works were heavy and dark, creating a moody feeling with small bursts of color and light. Some images depicted an other-worldly waterfall, created from photos William took in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, a galaxy away from the environment represented in the final images.

Scorpio Falls, 2017

In the latest installment of this series, entitled “Hallucinations In Madness,”  William takes us on quite a psychedelic journey. Pastel planets and bright bursts of color create a space landscape one might imagine in an acid trip or an old arthouse film. I had the privilege of chatting with William about his latest masterpiece, which will be on display at Brew Five Points during the month of March 2018.

Tell me about your history in the arts.

“It took three attempts in 8 years to finally start trying to make art at UNF. I’d either keep dropping classes or hastily move to New York or wherever somewhere else was, trying to start some version of a life, unsurprisingly flawed and premature, It always seemed natural to keep coming back to Jacksonville, though. I do love the coast. I think a lot of us have experienced this move and come back, and regardless of the pitfalls, they reshape us into something else. Personally, I felt like going to college for 4 years to get a degree was a flawed path for me.  Fortunately, I had been studying photography at UNF consistently through all my changes, but my professors in 2008 were so skillful and just had this great chemistry together that made you want to care more. Paul Karabinis, Alex Diaz and Dominick Martorelli taught me a specific type of craftsmanship within photography, and looking back, I realize that it’s something rare to actually find what you want to do in life while in school. Never thought that would happen to me. Ten years later, I still concern myself daily with image making, and it’s really enhanced and matured a kind of vision for production. I’m so grateful for being taught how to channel that type of mental potential. It is not always easy to get along with the mind during the years, and it took me an immense amount of practice to find some peace and stability in it all. I’m just now starting to enjoy my own progression.”

Tears in the Galaxy, 2018

How did you evolve from working strictly with film to a digital format?

“Nothing interested me as much as color-slide photography did, so i spent a good 7 years entirely committed to film. I have thousands of slide photographs, most of which I’ve never even touched, so I’m looking forward to exploring that avenue when the time comes. I’ve just been so attracted to having less limitations, and going digital a couple of years ago has had a profound effect on how I can construct collages much like I can visualize them in their surrealistic capacities. For me, film embedded realism — digital permitted idealism, and I’d have a hard time stepping back to 35mm anytime soon. It’s ironic just how inspired I’m feeling about technology, given that just a few years ago, I was lambasting the digital age as this instant-gratification monster, who wipes out the intimate and methodical characteristics of dark-room photography and all it’s dark teachings. It won’t. I just had to realize that it’s a separate entity, and that it really is a powerful tool. I mean look at what’s being created now. Personally, it’s making me thirstier for sensationalism. It is a modern treat to be able to make photographic collages like a custom sticker book, and I feel I have lost interest with sole layer photographs. I really don’t think future generations will still look at an Ansel Adams print with the same singularity. Will we have to be TOLD that it is good … a masterpiece? In some ways, the new has dulled the past, but I’m accepting that more and more it doesn’t mean an irreparable change.”

Now that you’re fully digital, what do you hope to achieve in your art, particularly in this series?

“I’ve become drawn to making a composition that departs from the finite placements found in photographs, and inserting new space in-between certain elements of a photograph that I like, and omitting the imbalance and undesirable. It’s easy for me to push my individualities into the remoteness of outer-space. The sheer size and infinite vastness of it allow for countless interpretations of what it could possibly look like, but I like the idea of romanticizing space scenes and giving it  sensationalistic qualities that are entirely absent here in this life now.”

The Waterfalls of Percassius, 2018

Can you tell me a little about the upcoming new installment in the S.P.A.C.E. series?

“The second installment in the S.P.A.C.E series is titled “Hallucinations in Madness,” which further explores the effects in which space has pressed upon the wandering spacefarer as he continues to photograph the distant and hidden depths of outer space. Differing atmospheric pressures and continuous gamma ray bursts have wreaked havoc upon our explorer’s mental state, as he copes with a new heightened sensory stimuli, as the search continues to find new life and living creatures on or around planets nearby. The series documents the effects of a gradually increasing detachment from worlds that have veered from the idealistic visions of youth into cynical disillusion.”

S.P.A.C.E. : Hallucinations in Madness by Edison William is on display throughout the month of March at Brew Five Points, 1024 Park Street in Riverside. The opening reception will be held Friday, March 9 at 6 p.m.