Travis Egedy, also known as Pictureplane, is a musician and visual artist who currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Egedy set out on a journey of artistic development and experimental living in Denver, Colorado before making his move to the East Coast. His paintings, drawings, photography, and mixed/digital media works have been exhibited in galleries in Denver, New York, and Europe. Egedy has toured throughout Europe and the U.S. performing his unique electronic concoctions of dreamy trance, darkwave, synthpop, and industrial rhythms as Pictureplane. I was able to score a brief Q&A with the artist before he jetted off to a distant land across the Atlantic earlier this summer.
Interview by Hayley Richardson
You’re originally from Santa Fe, which is where I hail from as well—I am pretty sure I went to high school with your brother. Santa Fe is a weird place to be a teen and develop an identity. Tell me a little bit about what it was like for you to grow up there—did the small desert town and its history, environment, and/or population have a significant impact on your present style (in art, music, fashion, or otherwise)?
I have been really fortunate in that I have been able to travel quite a lot, all over the world, and Santa Fe, New Mexico is really one of the most interesting, unique and beautiful places I have even been to. And it just happens to be where I grew up. Santa Fe has been a huge influence on me my whole life. The culture, history and southwestern aesthetics where a huge part of my lifestyle while living there as a kid and into high school. It’s just a very magical place that I think is really sacred, no place is like it. I feel like I am really lucky to be from there because it is just so different than how most Americans grow up, in suburbia or the inner city or some sort of really generic and ugly place. I don’t know if Santa Fe is still an influence in my art, but it is a huge part of who I am today and I hold it dear to my heart. I always say the southwest is my spiritual homeland.
I am interested in how an artist’s living environment influences their work. Tell me a little bit about your creative development and how it has influenced your moves from New Mexico to Colorado, and then New York.
I would say one of my biggest influences on my creative development was living at Rhinoceropolis in Denver for 6 years. Rhinoceropolis is a warehouse in north Denver that was just a space of pure artistic freedom and expression. Anything was accepted there and I was organizing wild and weird events there for years. It was a large social experiment of living outside of any sort of imposed boundaries within society. It was a beautiful time in my life and, like Santa Fe, made me into the artist I am today. Most of what I do as an artist and as a musician is informed by Rhinoceropolis places like it and also the people who are involved in communities that surround those creative spaces.
I’ve experienced Rhinoceropolis on a couple of occasions and it definitely carries a heavy experimental, DIY energy—one that can be confusing or even intimidating to someone unfamiliar with that type of lifestyle or aesthetic. Your photographs exhibited at Gildar Gallery seem to capture that type of ideal, with images that are gritty and sometimes dangerous, but that also express feelings of camaraderie and revelry of life. Your aesthetic appears strongly linked to your lifestyle . . .
Yes. A lot of what I do and who I am as an artist is informed by living in an environment like Rhinoceropolis and surrounded by the type of people that share that same lifestyle. The photographs are just documenting this environment and choice to live outside of societal norms.
The “Real is a Feeling” group exhibition at Gildar was named after one of your songs. The song is interesting because it is catchy and upbeat like a pop song, but it still sounds haunting and the lyrics are pretty obscure. The title and the music seem open to the listener’s own interpretations. And I think it’s cool that the title has been used to incorporate the visual as well as the auditory. Can you share more about the meaning of this song?
I guess that the meaning of that song is really just intuitively knowing in your heart what feels real. Just being in touch with yourself.
You studied painting at RMCAD. How you do you balance or incorporate aspects of your formal education with your DIY style?
I was educated just as much by living inside of Rhinoceropolis as I was in 5 years of “formal education” and it wasn’t anywhere near as expensive.
You’re on the road a lot performing, and you were recently on tour opening for Crystal Castles. You’ve performed at venues that range from historic theaters to dive bars and warehouses. What is life like on the road? Any interesting stories you want to share?
I feel really comfortable traveling. It is what I do for a living. I’ve been able to gain knowledge from it. I just feel really fortunate. I don’t know any crazy stories off the top of my head. There are too many. It’s all crazy.
In your show “Reality Engineering” (Fitness Center for Arts and Tactics, Brooklyn; Make Up Gallery/BAZZART, Kosice, Slovakia) you pose a powerful question: “Who creates our reality?” The work you created features a bold combination of Internet stock pictures, corporate logos, and pop culture imagery with drawings, painting, and photographs of your own creation. “Reality” is portrayed as a mixture of the authentic with the manufactured. After creating and exhibiting this body of work, do you feel any closer to answering that question of who creates reality?
Well, I don’t think there is any one answer to that question, because everyone’s “reality” is quite different I think. The show is really about being able to create your own reality rather than let it be left up to outside forces to define who you are.
To be continued . . .