The dynamic fall program also celebrates 15 years of experimental media and performing arts at EMPAC with a lively schedule of free talks, work-in-progress demonstrations, tours, and more including artists Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, Jessie Marino, Alexis Blake, Petra Kuppers, and the newly added album release event from Christopher Fisher-Lochhead with Ben Roidl-Ward
Troy, NY: EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announces that tickets are now on sale for events of their 2023 Fall season, which celebrates 15 years since the exceptional four-venue center for arts, sciences, and technology opened in 2008. Beginning their fall performance season in September with a pair of artist studio talks and conversations followed by two full-scale productions, the EMPAC curatorial team and artists in residence present programs through December, where audiences of creatives, technologists, and arts enthusiasts can share in their investigations of travel and migration, materials and acoustics, cultural and geological histories, and more. Each ticketed presentation is a one-night-only opportunity offering phenomenal experiences from some of the most compelling contemporary artists in their fields of music, dance, and film. In contrast, the expansive Shifting Center exhibition anchors the celebratory season with more than three full weeks of ongoing programming at EMPAC and beyond, where advance tickets are not required and visitors are invited to enjoy open-ended time-based art installations at their leisure.
Launching the Shifting Center exhibition October 27 through October 29 is the most visibly and geographically accessible presentation of the season. Three days of public broadcasts, viewing maps, and in-person events offer a range of options for people to take part in the spectacular journey of Beatriz Cortez’s steel sculpture Ilopango, the Volcano that Left as it travels along the Hudson River from New Windsor to Troy on the famed John J Harvey fireboat. The weekend will be especially rewarding for those who make a point to view it up-close when the fireboat is docked at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston (Saturday), or near the Troy Federal Lock and Dam (Sunday) before it’s arrival at EMPAC for installation in the concert hall, where it will remain on view for the duration of Shifting Center.
To complement its presented season, EMPAC also offers an expanded schedule of 7 building and exhibition tours held on fall weekends and led by individual staff engineers and curators.
General admission single tickets for all performances are $20, and EMPAC offers $15 reduced price tickets for ages 55+, students, and RPI faculty. Single tickets for the film screening are $10. RPI students can purchase advance tickets for any event at a reduced rate of $6, or gain free rush admission by joining EMPAC+. No reservations are necessary for talks, tours, and works-in-progress, which are always free.
2023 Fall Season Event Info (In chronological order, new details underlined, all programming subject to change)
Antonia Barnett-McIntosh and Jessie Marino: In Conversation Wednesday, September 6 at 6PM
Free | EMPAC Studio 2
In this talk and open studio, composer-performers Antonia Barnett-McIntosh and Jessie Marino present an intimate look into their individual practices and discuss recent developments as artists-in-residence on their newest collaboration, tentatively titled Susceptible Chambers: What would it sound like to embed a microphone capsule inside a terra cotta pot with a grid made from dried out pine cones? Or to cast a microphone enclosure completely out of agar-agar (a vegan alternative to gelatin)? Taking place amidst their work space in Studio 2, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about an EMPAC commission in its earliest stages directly from the artists. More information about Antonia Barnett-McIntosh here, and Jessie Marino here.
An Evening with Alexis Blake Monday, September 11 at 6PM
Free | EMPAC Studio 2
This talk and conversation, hosted by assistant curator Katherine C.M. Adams, delves into Alexis Blake’s approach to choreography where olfactory, sonic, and tactile materials figure prominently. rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash, awarded the Netherlands’ 2021 Prix de Rome prize, involves the gradual release of a smell of decay, realized in collaboration with the smell artist and researcher Sissel Tolaas. Crack Nerve Boogie Swerve develops from work with resonance, low-frequency sound, and forms of physical breaking—of glass scenography, and dance styles that draw from “breaking” in hip-hop. This presentation follows the US premiere of Crack Nerve Boogie Swerve at the High Line in New York City. Learn more about Alexis Blake here.
Miho Hatori: Salon Mondialité, Friday, September 22 at 8PM
Tickets range from $20-$6 | EMPAC Theater
Salon Mondialité is an electro-acoustic musical performance and video installation by musician, producer, and vocalist Miho Hatori that explores themes of memory, identity, and colonialism through kaleidoscopic and expansive dream-pop atmospheres and hypnotic rhythms. Hatori’s Salon combines composed and improvised music, experimenting with the structure of a “talk-show” to create a listening environment where nostalgia for the past and possibilities for the future co-exist. At EMPAC, Hatori brings invited guest musicians Patrick Higgins and Michael Beharie, and cross-media artists Steffani Jemison and Cole Lu onstage for live sound-story collaborations. A singular pre-show talk with Hatori and music curator Amadeus Julian Regucera begins at 7PM. Learn more about Miho Hatori here.
Michelle Ellsworth and Satchel Spencer: Evidence of Labor Friday, September 29 at 8PM
Tickets range from $20-$6 | EMPAC Studio 1-Goodman
Evidence of Labor: State of the Kitchen is an EMPAC-commissioned stage production that takes choreographer Michelle Ellsworth and programmer Satchel Spencer’s long standing artistic collaboration into realms of machine learning, maintenance art, and ontological speculation. Evidence of Labor uses choreography and a wooden oven to complicate the labor ethics of AI—like ChatGPT—to better recognize how these services could have significant social implications for people and machines. Soon after this full-scale preview presentation, the new work premieres at The Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City in November. Learn more about Michelle Ellsworth here.
Petra Kuppers: The Crip/Mad Archive Dances Wednesday, October 11 at 6PM
Free | EMPAC Theater
Scholar and artist Petra Kuppers draws on her prolific research integrating performance and disability studies for this lecture that addresses disabled and mad presences as they appear in dance archives. Kuppers discusses her strategies and insights with audience members in a poetic documentary-in-progress presentation. Continuing a close collaboration between EMPAC and the iEAR Presents! series, this event is the first of three Troy events with Kuppers, followed by two participatory workshops on October 12 at Sanctuary for Independent Media. More about Petra Kuppers here.
Ellen Fullman & The Living Earth Show: Elemental View Tuesday, October 24 at 8PM
Tickets range from $20-$6 | EMPAC Concert Hall
Elemental View is a musical work in six movements by pioneering composer Ellen Fullman for her Long String Instrument and the experimental duo The Living Earth Show—guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson. The expansive installation, with its 136 strings precisely tuned and configured for this multi-movement work, inhabits the EMPAC Concert Hall for one performance only. Typically installed in warehouses or environments where walls do not constrain its 80-foot-long strings, EMPAC engineers have designed a way for the glistening sounds of Fullman’s Long String Instrument to be experienced in a traditional concert hall setting for the first time ever. Join us to discover, as if with a magnifying glass, the physics of string vibration itself. This performance continues The Living Earth Show’s multi-season residency at EMPAC. Learn more about Ellen Fullman here and The Living Earth Show here.
Offsite October 27-29 | At EMPAC November 3-18
A “shifting center” is a technical term from the field of acoustics that describes the perceived dislocation in the position of a sound source. The culmination of EMPAC’s ambitious, multi-year curatorial project on architecture, acoustics, and the politics of sound in museums, the Shifting Center exhibition utilizes theatrical infrastructure and spatial audio technologies—and proposes techniques and practices—to locate and listen to contemporary artworks that are themselves locating and listening to past events, instruments, architectures, and landscapes. Featuring existing and newly commissioned works by artists including Tania Candiani, Padmini Chettur and Maarten Visser, Beatriz Cortez, Guillermo Escalón and Igor de Gandarias, Hugo Esquinca, Maurice Louca, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Micah Silver, and Clarissa Tossin, among others.
Exhibition Schedule November 3-18, 2023 Tuesday–Saturday, 11AM–5PM Saturday, November 11, 2023, 5–10PM
Free | Reservations not necessary
Beatriz Cortez: Ilopango, the Volcano that Left Friday-Sunday, October 27-29
Free | Hudson River from New Windsor to Kingston to Troy Extended!
Previously announced here, programming for Ilopango’s journey along the Hudson River estuary now starts on the morning of October 27 and in New Windsor, New York. Presented in partnership with Storm King Art Center and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, the open air journey of Cortez’s sculpture along the Hudson River draws our attention to the still continuing geological and ecological effects of a volcanic eruption that took place circa 536 CE in what is present-day El Salvador. Cortez describes “the volcano that left” as an act of migration and considers what it would mean for it to return. Filmmaker Guillermo Escalón and composer Igor de Gandarias join the sculpture on its journey up-river, recording the volcano’s passage for a forthcoming film (2024). Journey Info
Cortez’s sculpture departs from Storm King Art Center (where it has been installed since May 2023) onboard the John J Harvey fireboat on the morning of October 27, docks at the Hudson River Maritime Museum (Kingston), then proceeds on October 29 to Troy’s Federal Lock and Dam, which marks the end of the tidal estuary and the meeting of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. Updates, broadcast schedule, and viewing locations along the Hudson River will be published here as they are confirmed. Learn more about the John J Harvey here and here.
Programming partners also include Montez Press Radio (NYC) and WRPI (Troy) as well as Sanctuary for Independent Media (Troy).
Friday, November 3, 2023, 6–10PM
Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 11AM Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 5PM Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 11AM
Free | EMPAC Main Lobby
Shifting Center uses the performing arts and media production venues of EMPAC as exhibition spaces. Doing so, it sonically activates the building as though it were an instrument. These public tours include insights on how the center’s unique acoustic and theatrical architectures are used to stage Shifting Center while exploring its featured artworks with a curator of the exhibition. **New show added!**
Christopher Fisher-Lochhead: Wake Up the Dead Album Release Wednesday, December 6 at 6pm
Free | EMPAC Studio 2
To mark the release of his portrait album Wake Up the Dead (New Focus Recordings, 2023), composer-performer Christopher Fisher-Lochhead presents a lecture demonstration featuring the music on the album. A lecturer in the Rensselaer Arts Department, Fisher-Lochhead discusses his idiosyncratic approaches to notation, instrumental technique, form, harmony, and collaboration. The demonstration will include musical examples from the album itself plus a full performance of “grandFather” played by the acclaimed bassoonist and long-time collaborator Ben Roidl-Ward. A question-and-answer session and reception will follow. Learn about Christopher Fisher-Lochhead here.
In Pursuit: Short Films
Thursday, December 7 at 6PM
Tickets range from $10-$6 | EMPAC Theater
In Pursuit features short films that track itineraries through forms of exile or statelessness. Works by Miko Reverza, Bi Gan, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, and Gelare Khoshgozaran center forms of furtive mobility that threaten the loss of political status—chase, evasion, urgent travel, and outlawed movement. With pursuit used as a cinematic device to propel narrative, mobility exists in these films in terms of tactics and strategies, rather than as the cosmopolitan freedom to travel.
Saturday, September 23 at 11AM with senior network administrator Dave Bebb
Saturday, October 7 at 11AM with lead audio engineer Eric Brucker
Sunday, October 15 at 1PM with associate director Jonas Braasch
Saturday, December 2 at 11AM with master electrician Stephanie Van Sandt
Free | EMPAC Main Lobby
EMPAC building tours take visitors behind the scenes to experience the center’s infrastructure as few do. Each one is hosted by EMPAC staff with a different area of expertise–so there’s always something new to learn and discover. Single tickets are available by telephone at 518.267.3921 or online at empac.rpi.edu. Please visit our website for updates. All events are subject to change.
Vic Brooks, Time-based Visual Art
Ashley Ferro-Murray, Dance and Theater (2016-23)
Amadeus Julian Regucera, Music
Katherine C.M. Adams, Assistant Curator
Shifting Center is curated by Vic Brooks and Nida Ghouse with Katherine C.M. Adams and curatorial fellow M. Elijah Sueuga.
EMPAC 2023 Fall is made possible by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Additional project support provided by Flanders Department of Culture, Youth, and Media; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and the Simons Foundation. In-kind support provided by Arts Consulting Group. Major support for Shifting Center provided by Teiger Foundation, with support also provided by a Curatorial Research Fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and National Endowment for the Arts. Additional project support provided by the Simons Foundation. Ilopango, the Volcano that Left by Beatriz Cortez is co-commissioned by EMPAC–Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Storm King Art Center, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. The sculpture was created in part while Beatriz Cortez was in residence at Atelier Calder, Saché, France. Project support for its journey along the Hudson River and its documentation for the forthcoming film by Guillermo Escalón are supported by EMPAC, Teiger Foundation, and the Simons Foundation. Additional program support is also provided through the artist’s Borderlands Fellowship at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.
EMPAC / the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer located on the corner of 8th Street and College Avenue in Troy, NY, is both a place—a 220,000-square foot facility designed expressly for the creation and presentation of experimental media and performing arts—and an artist-centered curatorial program, where artists, researchers, and audiences come together to explore the boundaries of art, science, and technology.