Film Conversation & “Starship Troopers” @ EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

July 19th, 2017, 10:00 am by Sara

On Thursday (July 20) at 7pm, Hollywood special-effects legend Phil Tippett (“Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “RoboCop”) will join artist Lucy Raven at EMPAC at RPI in Troy for an evening of conversation and film screenings, including the sci-fi classic “Starship Troopers,” for which Tippett designed the early digital monster effects.

Before the event, at 6pm, Raven will celebrate the release of her new EMPAC-produced book, “Low Relief,” charting the strange history of 3D cinema and her experiments with the form.

The founder of Tippett Studios, Phil Tippett has worked over 30 years on visual effects for the film industry. In 1996, he accompanied director Paul Verhoeven to the Badlands of Wyoming to scout locations for the film “Starship Troopers,” which imagines warfare in the 23rd century between planet-colonizing humans and alien bugs called Arachnids. Under a staircase in his Berkley studio, Tippett recently rediscovered 12 hours of VHS tapes documenting the visualization strategy he undertook in transforming the barren landscape into a battlefield covered in digital monsters.

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FREE: Choreographer Trajal Harrell’s “The Return of La Argentina” @ EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

April 25th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

At 5pm today (Tuesday, April 25) choreographer Trajal Harrell will present a special matinee performance of his dance The Return of La Argentina at EMPAC at RPI in Troy. The performance will take place on the EMPAC Mezzanine, and admission is free.

The performance marks the beginning of Harrell’s artist residency at EMPAC, where he will be developing a new choreographic work. Known for bridging the choreographic legacy of Judson Church, a downtown New York City hotbed for postmodern invention, with the culture of “vogue” that originated in the Harlem underground, Harrell works at the intersection of different movement languages, race and gender.

In The Return of La Argentina, Harrell mixes postmodern/vogue styles with the Japanese dance/theater form butoh, co-founded by Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata. Whereas Harlem voguing is inspired by the movements of models, Ohno and Hijikata’s signature work Admiring La Argentina was inspired by La Argentina, the stage name of the famous Spanish dancer Antonia Merce. In his reinterpretation of the classic, Harrell channels Merce’s persona through both the butoh framework and his own vogue sensibilities. This web of danced relationships brings the audience on a journey of remembering, forgetting, memorializing and ritualizing.

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Filmmaker Mariam Ghani to Screen Rare Afghan Films at EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

April 24th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

A 7pm tonight (Monday, April 24), artist Mariam Ghani will present a selection of rare films produced between 1978-1991 from the Afghan Film Archive at EMPAC at RPI in Troy.

What We Left Unfinished is Ghani’s long-term research and film project.

Working in the dual role of artist and historian, Ghani describes the project as “centered around five unfinished Afghan feature films shot, but never edited, between 1978 and 1992: years that encompass the Afghan Communist coup d’état, attempted reforms that met bitter rural resistance, a series of internal purges and assassinations, the Soviet invasion and withdrawal, a five-year attempt at national reconciliation, the handover of power to a mujahidin coalition, and finally dissolution into civil war.

“From the unfinished films commissioned, produced and canceled by various iterations of the Afghan state, in various moments of the Afghan Communist project, we can reconstruct not the truths, precisely, of how the state existed and acted in those moments, but rather its most important fictions: its desires and fears, ambitions and ghosts. In the imaginary presented by most finished films of the period, we see the ideal People’s Democratic Republic that could have been, but wasn’t; in the unfinished films, the reality–a utopian project secured by violent force–lingers like a shadow, just barely concealed behind allegories and codes. The world around the films, where filmmaking itself was a dangerous enterprise, seeps into the world onscreen.”

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Today: Choreographer Mary Armentrout Offers Workshop @ EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

April 12th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

Today (Wednesday, April 12), San Francisco-based choreographer Mary Armentrout will conduct an open workshop at EMPAC at RPI in Troy. Titled From Feldenkrais to GoPro, the event will introduce participants to the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education in the context of contemporary media technologies such as the GoPro portable camera. The workshop runs from 5-8pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Feldenkrais Method is a system of gentle movement exercises meant to bring conscious attention to the bodily experience. In a traditional therapeutic context, the system is used to treat both physical and mental conditions by improving communication between the body and the brain’s motor cortex. Armentrout uses the Feldenkrais Method to understand everyday movements and environments as she integrates them into her artistic work as a choreographer.

Founding director of Mary Armentrout Dance Theater, Armentrout is currently in residence at EMPAC to develop a new site-specific performance in downtown Troy, along with media artist Ian Winters, composer Evelyn Ficarra and performer Chris Evans. Workshop participants will work with the full group of collaborators to not only learn Fledenkrais technique but to also begin integrating gestures and movement within contemporary media technology, especially the GoPro camera.

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Obie Award-Winning Theater Artist Andrew Schneider Offers Free Work-in-Progress Preview [Berkshire on Stage]

March 29th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

On Thursday (March 30) at 8PM, interactive-electronics artist and writer Andrew Schneider will offer a preview of his new work-in-progress, FIELD, at EMPAC at RPI in Troy. Admission is free and open to the public. Due to limited capacity, however, we suggest audience members arrive early.

This performance will cap the third in a series of production residencies at EMPAC, during which Schneider has worked on the follow-up to YOUARENOWHERE, the winner of an Off-Broadway Theater Award (Obie) in 2015. The new show will receive its soft launch at EMPAC in fall 2017 before premiering in New York City.

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A Talk by Media Theorist Susan Kozel @ EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

March 28th, 2017, 1:00 pm by Sara

On Wednesday (March 29), EMPAC at RPI will host media theorist Susan Kozel to discuss her research on the convergence of philosophy, dance and media technologies. The talk, titled When Performance and Philosophy Become Design Materials: Dialogues Between Dance and Interaction Design, will start at 7pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

In the realm of human-computer interaction — a field that drives the development of immersive and virtual digital environments and performances — the physical and affective aspect of the human experience has often received secondary consideration within the design and development of new technologies. Integrating the practice of dance improvisation with an analysis of the human body in digital culture, Kozel offers a somatic counterpoint to this tech-driven approach to HCI.

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FILM: “Some Kind of Joy” Profiles Architecture Firm That Designed EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

March 27th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

In 2001, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and his practice won the architectural competition for the design of EMPAC at RPI in Troy. Throughout the building’s construction, the collaboration between Grimshaw Architects (now just Grimshaw) and RPI was very close in all details of this extraordinary project.

Tonight (Monday, March 27) EMPAC and the Rensselaer School of Architecture will screen the new documentary Some Kind of Joy: The Inside Story of Grimshaw in Twelve Buildings at 6pm in the EMPAC Theater. Admission is free. The film will be introduced by Grimshaw partner William Horgan, who was the lead project architect for EMPAC.

“Watering the Flowers” Film Series Continues @ EMPAC at RPI [Berkshire on Stage]

March 1st, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Tonight (Wednesday, March 1) EMPAC at RPI in Troy kicks off the second half of the Watering the Flowers film series, which will feature the work of EMPAC artists-in-residence throughout the Spring 2017 season.

Started in Fall 2016, Watering the Flowers takes its title from cinema pioneer Georges Méliès’ 1896 film of the same name, which was itself a copy of a Lumiere brothers film and was in turn endlessly copied and referenced by fellow filmmakers. In a similar way, this film series aims to “water the flowers” by allowing current artists-in-residence to screen the films that influence them.

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