Edmund Alexander Emshwiller (February 16, 1925 – July 27, 1990), better known as Ed Emshwiller, was an American visual artist notable for his science fiction illustrations and his pioneering experimental films. He usually signed his illustrations as Emsh but sometimes used Ed Emsh, Ed Emsler, Willer and others.
From 1951 to 1979, while living in Levittown, New York, Emshwiller created covers and interior illustrations for dozens of science fiction paperbacks and magazines, notably Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He debuted in the pulp magazines with about 50 interior illustrations and four cover paintings for the May to December 1951 issues of Galaxy, a monthly edited by H. L. Gold. In that year or 1952 he also did his first book cover for the U.S. paperback edition of Odd John (Galaxy Publishing Corp.) Because he experimented with a diversity of techniques, there is no typical Emsh cover. His painterly treatment for the August 1951 cover of Galaxy Science Fiction prefigures later work by Leo and Diane Dillon.
Film and video
A single frame from Ed Emshwiller’s video Sunstone (1979) was featured on the front cover of this book published in 1982 by Addison-Wesley.
In 1964, a Ford Foundation grant allowed Emshwiller to pursue his interest in film. Active in the New American Cinema movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, he created multimedia performance pieces and did cine-dance and experimental films, such as the 38-minute Relativity (1966). He also was a cinematographer on documentaries, such as Emile de Antonio’s Painters Painting (1972), and feature films, such as Time of the Heathen (1964) and Adolfas Mekas’ Hallelujah the Hills (1963). Emshwiller’s footage of Bob Dylan singing “Only a Pawn in Their Game” on July 6, 1963 at a Voters’ Registration Rally in Greenwood, Mississippi, was shot for Jack Willis’ 1963 documentary The Streets of Greenwood and appears in D. A. Pennebaker’s Dylan documentary, Dont Look Back (1967).
Ed Emshwiller – Carol (1970)
His films of the 1960s were mostly shot in 16mm color, and some of these included double exposures created simply by rewinding the cameras. He was one of the earliest video artists. With Scape-Mates (1972), he began his experiments in video, combining computer animation with live-action. In 1979, he produced Sunstone, a groundbreaking three-minute 3-D computer-generated video made at the New York Institute of Technology with Alvy Ray Smith. Now in the Museum of Modern Art’s video collection, Sunstone was exhibited at SIGGRAPH 79, the 1981 Mill Valley Film Festival and other festivals. In 1979, it was shown on WNET’s Video/Film Review, and a single Sunstone frame was used on the front cover of Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics, published in 1982 by Addison-Wesley.
Ed Emshwiller – Sunstone (1979)
Ed Emshwiller – Thanatopsis (1962)