Brian Rogers and his empty “Hot Box” to be performed at EMPAC on Feb. 15-16

EMPAC always surprises, and bringing this work to RPI is truly brave. It is not theatre, and certainly not dance, in fact it is devoid of plot, story, or concern for the audience’s attention span. It is, in our opinion, an empty exercise in self indulgent hubris. You might compare it to John Cage’s 4′ 33″ but you only have to sit still for five minutes for that one.

When articles on upcoming performances appear in Berkshire on Stage, it usually means I think there is a pretty good chance you will enjoy something about them. But in this case, we highly recommend that you sample the videos embedded above and below – in the spirit of caveat emptor – before choosing to spend an evening with the work of Brian Rogers. In the New School video above the artist discusses “Hot Box” beginning about 1:02. The artist reveals himself to be without much in the way of traditional ideas about art. In fact, one might question whether his work is actually art, or simply the product of a clueless mind. Says Rogers: “I’m just making this stuff because I have nothing else to do, if that makes any sense.”

Watch the performance video below and you will see what he means. Rogers admits he was totally drunk when he appeared in it. And for some, that may be reason enough to explore his work. The question is whether he is L’enfant terrible or a true artist. And that only you can decide. LM

Brian Rogers - Hot Box. Where nothing much happens for an hour. On purpose.

Brian Rogers – Hot Box. Where nothing much happens for an hour. On purpose.


Troy, NY — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announces Hot Box, a multimedia theater performance by Brian Rogers/The Chocolate Factory. The event will take place in EMPAC’s Studio 2 on Friday and Saturday, February 15 and 16 at 8 PM; seating is limited.

Hot Box draws inspiration from a cinematic vocabulary—pans, zooms, cuts, etc.—while attempting to find a sustained stillness in an uncomfortable environment. Inspired by films like Apocalypse Now and Fitzcarraldo, a live performance situation is constructed that is violent and chaotic; and from that chaos, it attempts to compose a sequence of video images that are quiet, sustained, focused, and organized.

Conceived, directed, and performed by Chocolate Factory artistic director Brian Rogers, Hot Box is a companion piece to his Bessie-nominated 2010 performance Selective Memory. Where Selective Memory was extremely clean and minimalist in its approach, Hot Box is noisy and messy.

Brian Rogers / HOT BOX from Peter W Richards on Vimeo.

Brian Rogers is a director, video artist, co-founder, and artistic director of the Chocolate Factory Theater in Queens. Since 1997, Rogers has conceived and/or directed numerous large scale performances at the Chocolate Factory and elsewhere including Hot Box (2012, co-presented with FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival), the Bessie-nominated Selective Memory (2010/11), (re)DEVELOP (death valley) (2009), 2 Husbands (2007), Gun Play (2006), Audit (2004), and Fundamental (2002). Rogers also curates the Chocolate Factory’s visiting artist program. He has collaborated with Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty, Aynsley Vandenbroucke, Tara O’Con, and Jillian Sweeney, among others.

Hot Box was first presented at the Chocolate Factory in September 2012 as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival, and re-performed in January 2013 as part of PS122’s COIL Festival. Major production support is provided by The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional commissioning support is provided by NYSCA’s Individual Artists Program. Residency support is provided by Mount Tremper Arts.

Tickets are $18 general admission; $13 non-Rensselaer students, seniors, and Rensselaer faculty + staff; and $6 Rensselaer students (must provide ID for discounted tickets).

Evelyn’s Café will open at 7 PM with a full menu of meals, snacks, and beverages as well as a selection of wines. Service continues after the performance. Parking is available in the Rensselaer parking lot on College Avenue.

More information can be found on the EMPAC website: Questions? Call the EMPAC Box Office: 518.276.3921.

Vectors of Research—Circles of Art

EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center—is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities, technologies, and by breathing the same air.

Situated on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is dedicated to building bridges between our human senses, to modes of perception and experience, to creating meaning in a physical environment, and to the intangible world of digital technology.

Four discrete venues are designed with unique technical infrastructure to enable audiences to see, hear, and move in space in endlessly different ways. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to create new work and presents events which ask audiences to join the quest for new perspectives.

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