Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute rpi.edu/ has created a unique platform at the intersection of art, science, and technology.
The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center empac.rpi.edu/ – EMPAC for short – was designed by Grimshaw Architects. In accordance with the pioneering vision of Rensselaer, architects and consultants developed a facility unique in its programmatic integration.
EMPAC is dedicated to bridging the potential of digital technology and our human senses, which indeed are the basis for us to make sense, to create meaning.
By merging scientific and technological research and the production and presentation of time-based arts under one roof, EMPAC creates new potential through the communal use its resources.
A concert hall seating 1200, a theater with a stage tower and two studios were built to meet the strictest requirements for auditory and visual perception and production, for interaction among humans - and with technology.
A computer controlled ceiling with varying acoustical properties.
A 360 degree panoramic screen for interactive environments, films or data exploration.
Just relax – through an EEG your brain waves will control your ascent – and they stop you when the lights and sounds interrupt your state.
Moving and feeling in virtual worlds can be difficult – but when your head is swapped with another person and you see what actually the OTHER persons sees – then you need a guide – fits, time right or you join the freshmen at the party which they created with the technology at EMPAC during their first week on campus.
Next door, walls are moved and are tracked by computers and projected colors. The same process is used to move through a head scan by actually pushing a large screen over the floor. Digital space becomes tangible in the physical space.
The high flexibility of EMPAC’s venues and the great diversity of projects becomes clear when the previous head scan set-up is using the same studio as a dance company, and a jazz pianist shares the podium with a pianist playing together with scores of loudspeakers.
And then a researcher sets up an airport security check where a large number of video cameras can feed computer algorithms to detect suspicious behavior in a group of people.
A different kind of computer-camera combination follows a moving hand and is then used in the development of an interactive theater piece.
EMPAC is about “human scale”. The spaces are built for our innate senses of scale, size, distance, seeing, hearing – all of which connect us with the world.
Interacting with big data in a live-programming environment and visualizing the data at a “human scale”, enables live data exploration in a new dimension.
All venues are as quiet as the concert hall. And all are technically highly flexible.
This video is also available with closed captions at youtu.be/YwLVxBFP0yw
RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
TROY, NY USA