QUALIATIK is the multimedia project of producer, singer, songwriter, and new media artist Arielle Herman, who began making music while studying neuroscience at Haverford College. On November 1, QUALIATIK released “Physicality” to the public, an introspective yet dynamic film which is an ode to the challenge of discovering oneself.
First of all, What’s the origin for your name?
QUALIATIK: I had been using Tumblr for a long time! When i started making NewHive art, I thought, “Oh it’s so cool! You can be creative and you don’t have to put so much [struggle] into it!”
It kind of just popped into my head for my username, but it comes from the word Qualia – which is a word about the philosophy of mind, that refers to subjective experience.
The way you see the color red, or the way vanilla smells to you, or the way you hear a train passing by. These are all experiences that you can’t really describe what the phenomena of those experiences feels like without using words. Even those words are tainted by the way you…feel about those words.
I thought that was really cool in terms of art because everyone has their own very specific experience of any song or visual, based on the connotations of those things for them.
Everyone has this really beautiful, singular, emotional, psychological experience of anything they see.
At least for my art, it almost exclusively comes from an introspective space. So it’s just me kind of staring my own ‘qualia’ in the face and trying to make art out of it…and making something that reflects it. All the while giving everyone else their own unique experience of that thing.
That definitely falls into the ideals of DIY. My favorite thing about DIY artists is the fact that it’s such an intimate and independent development of art. Whats the importance for this sense of self-sufficient (DIY) style of work?
When I watched this music video, I cried because it’s the 1st time I’ve ever created something that fully communicates a feeling. Y’know?
It could mean something totally different to someone else, but to me, it feels like the purest expression of that emotion. The fact that it all came from the same brain that makes it feel to me like an accomplishment; To be able to express that in the form of a piece.
I do think that the best art comes from amazing collaboration, but for now I get a lot of enjoyment, satisfaction, and honesty out of expressing it all myself and pushing myself to learn new ways to do it.
Yeah I watched PHYSICALITY with MarkDigital like, “MAN this is really ***** good! We’ve gotta do this interview!”
[laughs] Thank you! Yeah, it’s a very emotional thing for me.
I didn’t know the 1st thing about video production in this and I was scared of Final Cut Pro. In the process of learning it, I explored the feelings more. I just did what felt right. I don’t know any rules or the right way to do it, so I just had to go by the feeling and I think that helped me to express that conflict in a very pure and honest way.
Is there a particular setting that you prefer to create your work in?
[laugh] Oh God no, i don’t really have an option.
Would you say that is good for your art? Or affects the way you make your music?
Definitely! It’s kind of beneficial to be traveling a lot, because it makes you really versatile. You have to be able to zone in wherever you are, no matter the context. I guess that’s a nice constant in my life, because i have no constants in my life. [laughs]
I think it’d be more beneficial if I had a studio space. Other than that, I bring my laptop wherever I go. Working in this coffee shop, working on that bus, or in my friend’s room. To be able to open my computer and work on a track and really focus in on the details or the mastering/audio engineering of it are very therapeutic for me. So it’s been nice for me to bring that along and do it in any space.
A big inspiration for some of your work includes the technology, identity, and gender themes of Ghost In The Shell. How do you feel about the future concept of the human body and its relation to gender norms?
I think it’s really important [as an artist] to be in touch with your own gender fluidity. Even if you identify as a certain gender, there is still fluidity in the things that we like. I think it’s really important to not be ashamed of them and to let them have their place in your identity, and work especially. Ghost in the Shell really opened my mind about the future and where gender identity is going in the future. Even in the video, the girl in the white dress is a hyper-feminized version of myself, whereas the cyborg character was a more androgynous version of myself. The hyper feminine one is sorta what I’m ‘supposed’ to be, even though it’s not everything and it’s too meek and elegant and bland. Then the CGI-cyborg version represents the person you’re striving to be, but it’s too polished and too clean. It’s kind of about balancing different parts of your identity as they fit along the stereotypical gender spectrums of behavior and interests. When you’re an independent female artist, you fall into these assertive feelings that you don’t have a place for before that, simply because you have to be assertive!
Are there any inspirations or individuals that have inspired you lately?
Yeah, at the time i was dealing with really nihilistic feelings about tech and artificial intelligence; How A.I. feels like the next step of evolution. Humans are naturally curious and if a technology can be achieved, it will be. It’s futile to resist. I’m really drawn to technology, but I’d literally rather be in the forest or by a river. I was a dumb nature child as a kid!
Good, that’s a great way to be!
I was also dealing with where the brain falls short and where A.I. could help secede it.
I’ve always had a tendency to try to be superhuman! ‘I don’t have to sleep! I don’t have to do this!’ I think that’s a testament to pushing myself so hard to making the video myself.
Geez, I hope you haven’t been watching Black Mirror!
[laughing] Oh, you know I have!!
QUALIATIK is currently working on her debut EP, and is based in Brooklyn, NY. For inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.