EMPAC Celebrates 10 Years of Experimental Media and Performing Arts During Fall 2018

The anniversary season will be punctuated by 10YEARS, a three-day celebration Oct. 1113, featuring a diverse lineup of newly commissioned performances

TROY, NY—This fall, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the landmark building’s opening and the first decade of adventurous programming at the confluence of art, science, and technology. Throughout Fall 2018, EMPAC will present a diverse lineup of multidisciplinary performances, talks, and workshops, many of which have been commissioned and developed in residence at the center. Anchoring the season is 10YEARS, a three-day celebration Oct. 11—13, presenting new works by Wu Tsang andboychildYara TraviesoIsabelle PauwelsMaria Hassabi, and performances by Trajal HarrellFormosa Quartet, and International Contemporary Ensemble.

Upon opening in October 2008, EMPAC was hailed by The New York Times as “a technological pleasure dome for the mind and senses…dedicated to the marriage of art and science as it has never been done before.” A decade later, EMPAC has conducted over 4000 days of artistic residencies and research, commissioned more than 100 new cross-disciplinary artworks with artists from 30 countries, and presented over 600 performances for the Rensselaer campus and upper Hudson Valley audiences, becoming an international touchstone in the world of multimedia performing arts, research, and development. All of this is chronicled in the new book Programming EMPAC Vol. 2, which will be released on the occasion of the 10YEARS celebration.

Without looking backward, 10YEARS follows the accomplishments of EMPAC’s first decade by presenting a slate of new performances, including the world premiere of four new commissions spanning dance, theater, film, and time-based visual art.

Performing the celebration’s opening concert Thursday night (Oct. 11), Formosa Quartet will lead the audience through all four EMPAC performance venues, playing classical string quartet repertoire selected to match the architectural acoustics of each space.

Friday’s events include the premiere screening of Canadian artist Isabelle Pauwels’ feature-length film, If It Bleeds, based on the artifice and pageantry of professional Mixed Martial Arts. “World maker” Yara Travieso will perform the premiere of an immersive theatrical piece specially designed for the EMPAC Concert Hall. Throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, choreographer Maria Hassabi will be showing her moving-image installationSLOW ME DOWN, drawn from dance footage performed internationally. And dancer-choreographer Trajal Harrell will perform three showings of his trio work In the Mood for Frankie in the EMPAC lobby.

On Saturday, artists Wu Tsang and boychild join with performers Josh Johnson and Jeff Simmons, and musicians Patrick Belaga and Asma Maroof, as the performance collective Moved by the Motion to perform the premiere of their collaborative work One Image is a Lie, the Other Unavailable. And the 35-member International Contemporary Ensemble will join with conductor Timothy Weiss and Gilbert Nouno on live electronics to perform composer Olga Neuwirth’s Lost Highway Suite, inspired by the David Lynch film and using a 64-speaker Ambisonic dome built around the audience.

In addition to these performances, EMPAC director Johannes Goebel will present a talk,Down the Rabbit Hole, on the philosophy and politics of digital archiving. And Hui Su, director of the Cognitive and Immersive Systems Laboratory (CISL) at EMPAC, will present on the initiative’s current research into human-computer interface design.

10YEARS figures into a Fall 2018 season that will commence on Sept. 12 with the premiere of Mary Armentrout Dance Theater’s roving performance Listening Creates an Opening. The culmination of 2 ½ years of residential production, the performance will take audience members on a journey from the EMPAC building to the Hudson River, and will run four consecutive nights (Sept. 12—15).

On Sept. 20, University of Texas at Austin media theorist Dawna Ballard will present a talk on “chronemics,” or the way that time is created and affected through human communication.

Park Jiha will perform a concert on Sept. 25, blending traditional Korean instruments—like the piri bamboo flute—with an improvising quartet versed in classical minimalism, downtempo jazz, and post-rock.

Artist-in-residence Ghislaine Leung will join EMPAC lead audio engineer Todd Vos in-conversation on Oct. 25 to discuss the technique of “active sound cancellation” (common in headphone design) as it applies to artistic concepts Leung is working on implementing in the gallery context.

Director of Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) Chris Chafe will present a talk and workshop on Nov. 1 focused on “data sonification,” or the process of analyzing large data sets by translating them into sound.

Choreographer Alice Sheppard and her team of professional disabled artists Kinetic Light will perform DESCENT, a live-dance retelling of the myth of Venus and Andromeda as an interracial love story, Nov. 15 and 16.

And on Nov. 29, filmmaker Mariam Ghani returns to EMPAC to screen a preview of her feature What we left unfinished, based on the history of the Afghan Film Archive. Composer Qasim Naqvi (of the band Dawn of Midi) will join Ghani to discuss the relationship of sound and image in the film.

Throughout Fall 2018, EMPAC will continue to run a series of free building tours the first Saturday of every month beginning at 11AM. On Sept. 1, the tour guide will be EMPAC director Johannes Goebel; on Oct. 6, it will be senior network administrator Dave Bebb; on Nov. 3, it will be director of stage technologies Geoff Abbas; and on Dec. 1, it will be time-based visual art curator Victoria Brooks.

For more information, please visit empac.rpi.edu.

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