Counter to the childhood rhyme of “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” we know that speech can be a mighty weapon. Throughout the centuries, it has fired up countless masses and mobilized them into action… for better or worse. It has unleashed revolutions and fueled wars. Such is the power of words.
The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York announces an evening of screenings by EMPAC distinguished artist-in-residence Laurie Anderson featuring a special guest performance with both Anderson and Rensselaer Arts professor and composer Pauline Oliveros. The screenings will take place in the Concert Hall at 5 and 8PM on Thursday, May 2, 2013.
The back-to-back presentations will provide audiences with a unique opportunity to be fully immersed in Laurie Anderson’s films and videos. She will lead us through two separate screening programs, including many of her works. The 8PM presentation will be capped off with a screening of a silent film to which Anderson and Pauline Oliveros play together.
As part of their Shadow Play film series, EMPAC at RPI in Troy is offering a one-night-only screening a handful of short films bythe Quay Brothers at 7:30pm on Thursday (April 18). Culled from their double-DVD collection Phantom Museums, the films span the 30-year career of identical twins Stephen and Timothy Quay, highlighting their unique stop-motion puppet films that are brimming over with haunting, dream-like visions. Still is truly stunning, mesmerizing stuff…
The films begin at 7:30pm on Thursday, and admission is $6. The screening includes:
“Street of Crocodiles” – 1986 (20:32 min.)
“The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer” – 1984 (14:12 min.)
“Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies” – 1987, (14:29 min.)
“The Comb” (from “The Museum of Sleep”) – 1990 (18:04 min.)
“Still Nacht IV” – 1994 (3:56 min.)
“In Absentia” – 2000 (19:17 min.)
RPI’s guest speaker on digital media is N. Katherine Hayles. She is a bit of a prophet, though more wise and wonderful than great and powerful.
When you smash art and science together, be prepared for The Great Conflation where logic and imagination meet. Consider, for example, how permanent a book is compared to technology. Treated with care, books last hundreds of years and the thoughts of earlier writers are still accessible today in physical form. Meanwhile technology, which keeps updating itself, often makes written material ephemeral and history will not be able to access much of the important writing of the digital age unless we archive it all.
Who decides this? How do we go about preserving the best of the internet’s output for future generations. How can we know which of it is going to be important to people a century or millennium from now? It’s the sort of thing that keeps N. Katherine Hayles awake at night. Nobody better embodies The Great Conflation as science is employed to understand writing, literature and philosophy for future generations.
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Timothy Reidy
A JazzApril story
In our last episode, drummer Clifford Barbaro revealed his former bandleader Sun Ra’s description of his legendary Arkestra (“This is not a jazz band! This is an avant-garde band!”), after which Barbaro looked at us in total consternation and said, “What’s ‘avant-garde?’” Clifford, wherever you are, I think I found your answer.
Ladies and gendarmes, I give you the Peter Evans Quintet, a unit that has been making (in the words of its trumpet-playing leader) “weird noises” since 2009. The band is described as “an adventurous jazz quintet for the 21st century,” and their music is purported to present “traditional idioms contorted by real-time computer processing and performed with pinpoint accuracy.” That’s marketing, baby! What’s more, the pieces performed at EMPAC last Friday night had only been performed in Europe since the Jerome Foundation and Roulette Intermedium commissioned them in 2011. “So it’s good to play this music on home turf,” trumpeter-composer Peter Evans told us.
TAO is the third collaborative dance film between Argentinian filmmaker Cayetana Vidal and choreographer and dancer Sofia Mazza, who explore the superimposition of movement and image.
Troy, NY: The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announces the Dance Movies Commission premieres, an evening of screenings, an installation, discussions with the commissioned artists and EMPAC curators, and an open reception on the Theater stage. The event will take place in EMPAC’s Theater on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 7:30 PM.
This evening event marks the official premiere of the 2011 Dance Movies Commission projects, which were supported by this ongoing unique arts funding initiative. Cayetano Vidal’sTAO will be screened along with excerpts from past DMC recipients. The event will also feature presentations and talks by the commissioned artists as well as founding EMPAC dance and theater curator Hélène Lesterlin and current curator Ash Bulayev. The evening will conclude with an open reception on the Theater stage featuring light fare and beverages. Colin Gee’s installation In the First Place… will be open throughout the event as well as 10 AM to 7 PM on Friday, April 5.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s rarely screened science fiction thriller World on a Wire (Welt am Draht) is an adaptation of Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3. The original was thought lost but recently the film was reconstructed and restored, and showcases both the genius and the peculiarities of Fassbinder. Imagine his future world peopled by the same cabaret singers and archetypes he used in Genet’s Querelle. His work is always astonishing.
Once again we have a provocative film. Here the filmmaker blurs the boundary between reality and simulation making what we think we see something that is ceaselessly questioned.
At the institute for cybernetics and future science (“Institut für Kybernetik und Zukunftsforschung, IKZ”), a new supercomputer hosts a simulation program that includes an artificial world with over 9,000 “identity units” who live as human beings, unaware that their world is just a simulacron. Professor Vollmer, who is technical director of the program, is apparently on the verge of an incredible secret discovery. He becomes increasingly agitated and anti-social before dying in a mysterious accident. His successor, Dr. Fred Stiller, has a discussion with Günther Lause, the security adviser of the institute, when the latter suddenly disappears without trace, before passing on Vollmer’s secret to Stiller. More mysterious still is the fact that none of the other IKZ employees seem to have any memory of Lause.
Taking jazz into the 21st century, the adventurous Peter Evans Quintet will incorporate real-time sound processing with traditional instruments when they invade EMPAC at RPI in Troy on Friday night (March 29). The live electronics allows the group to change their collective ensemble sound fluidly from mellow tones to jagged rattling to cacophonous reverberation. Drawing on traditional jazz idioms as source material, trumpeter-composer Peter Evans and his band contort them into something resembling classical European avant-garde, complete with complex rhythms played with pinpoint accuracy and confounding extended techniques.