What’s your take on EMPAC?

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The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at RPI in Troy begins its Spring 2012 season Thursday night with a screening of Alfred Hithcock’s classic film “Vertigo.”

Some highlights of the coming season include Annie Dorsen: “Hello Hi There” on Feb. 18, in which chatbots hold a conversation; a solo saxophone performance by John Zorn on April 3; and a dance performance by Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey called “Tool is Loot” on April 20, 21.

The building opened in fall 2008 and 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.” Sometimes, though, it seems not enough people are familiar with EMPAC or they are turned off by what it presents to the public. Of course, public events are only part of what happens at EMPAC, which also commissions new work in video, dance, music, theater, internet art, DVD productions, interactive installations and multimedia art; holds residencies for artists and scholars, who get to use the venues facilities; conducts workshops to give people hands on experience in various types of new technologies; as well as rents out the venue for other events.

For an upcoming column, I’m wondering what other people think of EMPAC. So you can take the poll below and add any comments you may have.

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8 responses to “What’s your take on EMPAC?”

  1. I love it so much I wish I could have brought it to Ireland with me. Apart from my friends, it’s the only thing I miss about Albany/Troy except for Mahar’s.


  2. I love it, especially the new music. I would go more if I had more time. Also, a lot of the experimental music is preformed during the week, and I like to take our son, who is in high school, so that makes it hard.

    The space is gorgeous. I am always amazed that so few people go there. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on why.


  3. EMPAC is truly a cutting edge experience with music, video, films, art installations and lectures available to Capital Region residents -all largely unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. This has become one of my favorite entertainment destinations.


  4. the building is one of the ugly eye-sores in the capital region, made all the more so by its “in your face” location on the hill . . . as though looking down its nose at the whole of upstate new york.

    but, more than an ugly eye-sore, the building symbolizes the utter irrelevance of such institutions of higher education when it comes to connecting with the world outside their borders.

    there is no reason anyone of sound mind would ever traverse the sacred rpi mount to attend anything at empac. it offers nothing to the real world.

    what a shame and an abomination that rpi’s leaders allowed and encouraged architects to design something of such obcene monetary expense and such grotesque architectural misfit to the gracious, glorious, and grande history of troy. ah, but then again, we forget: rpi is above it all . . . literally and symbolically.

    archaeologists will marvel and puzzle, a thousand generations from now, when they dig up the ruins of our civilization and try to analyze the building we now call empac . . . compared to the rest of the campus and the city below, that building will likely be dubbed the result of some invading, hostile force which took over the “kingdom.”

    how right they will be.



  5. I appreciate it like I appreciated the Metropolitan Opera, The Wooster Group, The Public Theater, etc. when I lived in Brooklyn. I may not go all the time but I like having it there. Just the idea that if I feel like it, I can see experimental music and world class performance art in a stunning space which doubles as breeding ground for new work in the form of an artists residency makes me happy. It’s a statement that you don’t have to travel to NYC or Europe to see cutting edge works.


  6. EMPAC is one of the very few outlets of cultural awareness in the area, and for that it should be cherished.
    And Don – does an RPI-related post ever fail to sour up your grapes? It’s as if you live for these moments.
    Who else in the area is hosting the Boredoms (one of the best live shows the area has ever seen), Four Tet, Madlib, Prefuse 73, etc etc etc.
    Feel free to pat yourself on the back on bringing Zorn to the area years ago. For that, are indeed a hero.


  7. Two of the most amazing percussion performances I’ve ever seen were at EMPAC, and there have been plenty of other wonderful shows there. The seasonal line-up is always varied, interesting, and unusual. I’m surprised by some of the complaints here. Every strip mall in a 10 mile radius is more of an eyesore than EMPAC, and the offerings are varied enough to appeal to all sorts of art lovers. While some of their programs may overlap other venues, they still offer a highly selective array of very unusual and technologically unique evenets that could not be staged anywhere else. And if the NYT is your benchmark for relevance, all I can say is: wake up the the rest of the world. EMPAC is cool. Troy should be proud of it.


  8. please pardon and correct two typos:

    unique “events” – and – wake up “to” the rest of the world.



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