Items tagged with 'EMPAC'

Experiencing "mixed reality" at EMPAC

A Microsoft promo video for the tech.

This could be cool: EMPAC is hosting a hands-on demonstration of the the Microsoft HoloLens "mixed reality" tech on November 1. The demo will be on the venue's mezzanine from 10 am-9 pm and it's free -- you can drop in whenever. Blurbage:

Microsoft's HoloLens is the world's first fully untethered, self-contained holographic computer. Wearing the headset, users scan their physical surroundings and use gestures to place and manipulate digital 3D objects. Distinct from virtual-reality environments, the HoloLens creates a "mixed reality" where computer-generated elements are integrated into the human world. From the classroom to the operating room and into the performing arts, applications for the system are just starting to be explored.

That evening Microsoft developer Kayla Kinnunen will be at EMPAC for a talk about the tech. More blurbage:

Following the HoloLens demo, during which guests are invited to explore the system's capabilities and imagine new applications, Kinnunen will discuss the future of human-computer interaction within these mixed-reality environments. Kinnunen leads a production team building HoloLens and Mixed Reality applications. She and her team generate content for the platform meant to reach a wide range of audiences and spur creativity and innovation in the new medium. This event will be an opportunity for audience members to help imagine the impact of devices like the HoloLens and provide feedback on their experience working in mixed reality.

The talk is at 7 pm in EMPAC's theater. It's free.

There's been a lot of hype recently about virtual reality and augmented reality tech, though applications such as Google Glass have more or less fizzled out. But it's very possible this sort of tech will take root in small ways -- say, in work settings -- and slowly start popping up in everyday life.

In the meantime, here's a video about someone who built a real-life Super Mario Bros. with the Hololens.

EMPAC fall 2017 season

musician Hieroglyphic Being 2017

Hieroglyphic Being is playing a show in Studio 1 in September.

The schedule for the fall 2017 season at EMPAC is out. As usual, it's full of all sorts of unusual, out-there, and challenging performances, talks, and demonstrations.

This time around, the topics range from performance art to concerts to film to dance.

Here's a quick-scan of the slate...

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YOUARENOWHERE at EMPAC

YOUARENOWHERE Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider will be at EMPAC August 10-11 to present his award winning show YOUARENOWHERE. And there's an opportunity to see it free -- by being part of the show. Blurbage:

We invite you to slide into the role of an accomplice audience member. Access a unique, secret way of experiencing a multimedia performance that combines theater, technology, and visual art - and see a mind-bending show for free!
You are the secret element on which the show rests. All you need to do is sign up, follow simple instructions, and be a part of a transformative performance experience. Take a close look at the inner workings of the show from behind-the-scenes, and become a spectator of a very particular kind...

Here's the info about how to sign up. We hear that being a participant will be an interesting and unusual experience. (Also: There will be pizza.)

EMPAC will be hosting two performances of YOUARENOWHERE -- Thursday, August 10 and Friday, August 11, both at 8 pm. Tickets to be part of the regular audience are $18, $13 for students and seniors.

EMPAC summer 2017 season

jazz musician Ambrose Akinmusire

Jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire will be there in August.

For the first time, EMPAC has put together a summer seasons of events.

Summers at the venue have typically been dedicated to artists' residencies and research. But this year it's also added a handful of public events, ranging from concerts to film to theater.

Here's a quick scan of the slate:

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EMPAC spring 2017 season

EMPAC Spring 2017 composite

Clockwise from left: star violinist Anne Akiko Meyers (photo: MolinaVisuals), Modern Living by the choreographers Gerard & Kelly, and a still from the video game Thralled.

The schedule for the spring 2017 season at EMPAC is out. And, as in past seasons, it's full of all sorts of different, cutting edge, and challenging performances, talks, and demonstrations.

This time around, the topics range from digital activism to video games to music to re-imagining a theater classic to architecture.

Here's a quick-scan of the slate...

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EMPAC fall 2016 season

Mabel Kwan Trois Hommages 2016

In September Mabel Kwan will be at EMPAC to perform a piece. On two pianos. At the same time.

The slate for the upcoming fall season at EMPAC is out. And, as usual, it includes all sorts of unusual, challenging, or experimental performances. A condensed schedule is after the jump.

Also at the venue this fall, a new tool for performances. Blurbage:

A hallmark of the fall 2016 season is the unveiling of EMPAC's recently constructed wave-field array. Consisting of 496 independently controllable loudspeakers, this audio system is one of the most precise in the world, and capable of creating a 3D "holophonic" sound environment. More immersive than ordinary surround sound, "wave field synthesis" allows composers to place sounds in specific spatial locations around the audience and will figure heavily into future EMPAC electronic music programming.

An installation opening later this month, as well as a performance in early September, will make use of the new system

OK, onto that schedule...

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Gather around

EMPAC is often described not just as a collection of performance venues, but also as a research center. And if you've ever wondered what sort of research goes on there (we've been curious) here's one example: a group at EMPAC has created a six-foot-diameter "fire pit" for displaying information to a group of collaborating people.

From the RPI blog The Approach:

The Campfire consists of two main display surfaces, its "wall" and "floor." While they can be largely independent, their shared edge provides a natural interface for various dimensions of visualization, simulation, and interaction. Any traditional two-dimensional images and applications can be placed on the surfaces, but a key innovation is that each of the surfaces has one continuous, potentially shared, dimension. Information can be wrapped around the campfire as in the rings of a tree, the spokes of a wheel, or even in a panoramic view of a real or virtual landscape. The wall can be used to dive into data shown on the floor and vice versa.

The video embedded above provides a short look at how the display in action.

EMPAC spring 2016 season

Cellist Okkyung Lee will be at EMPAC January 28, along with clarinetist Rane Moore, to "explore a greater sonic range of the clarinet and cello."

Right to the point: EMPAC's 2016 spring schedule is now out. And, as always, it's full of performances and events that promise to be interesting, thought-provoking, even challenging.

Here's a compressed version of the schedule...

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Drawing: EMPAC (pick three) + Peck's Arcade or The Confectionery

empac fall 2015 drawing composite

Some of the performers set for EMPAC this fall (clockwise from top left): Silas Reiner, Oneohtrix Point Never, France Jobin, vhvl.

Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

The fall season at EMPAC started recently and it picks up speed this week with a two more events. As usual, the fall schedule is full of interesting, unusual, thought-provoking events and performances.

And you could have your pick of events to attend -- for free.

The prize for this drawing is three pairs of tickets for events at EMPAC this fall season -- and you get to pick the events. Maybe it's three music performances, maybe it's a concert and two dance/movement events, maybe it's two things you're sure you'll love plus one thing you'd never have thought to try. It's your choice.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: The prize also includes a $50 gift certificate to either The Confectionery or Peck's Arcade in downtown Troy -- winner's choice.

To enter this drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

Music, dance, film, and the arts often help us see the world in a different way. So, what's something local that's prompted you to see the world differently?

It could be something big and life changing, or it could be some little thing that's help you see one thing in a different light. We'll draw one winner at the random.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Thursday, September 10, 2015 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Friday and must respond by noon on Monday, September 14.

EMPAC fall 2015 season

Composer/performer Holly Herndon caps off the schedule in December.

Without ado, further or otherwise, here's the slate for the upcoming fall season at EMPAC. It is, as usual, full of performances, talks, and events that promise to be interesting, thought-provoking, even challenging.

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Drawing: Pianoply at EMPAC + Peck's Arcade

pianist vicky chow

Vicky Chow is one of the pianists who will be performing.

Drawing's closed!

EMPAC has what sounds like an interesting show coming up this Saturday: Pianoply, in which four pianists will be playing pianos in four different spaces at the arts venue.

We have a pair of tickets for the event, and we're giving them away. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. To the pair of tickets we're also adding a $75 gift certificate to Peck's Arcade, the new restaurant in downtown Troy.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What's one of your favorite sounds?

It could be something general, like laughter, or a specific sound in a specific place, like the carillon in downtown Albany. We'll draw one winner at random. That person will get the tickets and gift certificate.

Here's a little more about Pianoply:

This evening of piano performances brings together some of the leading soloists working today in new music to explore their instrument's full color spectrum in EMPAC's complete range of acoustic environments. Performing on grand pianos of varying sizes and manufactures, Pianoply will examine virtuosity through the lens of situation and setting.
Pianoply will feature soloists Vicky Chow, Stephen Drury, Mabel Kwan, and Marilyn Nonken, performing on a selection of pianos: a 9' Hamburg Steinway, 9' New York Steinway, 7' Fazioli, 6' 7" Bösendorfer, and 7' 6" Yamaha pianos.
The audience will be guided through all of EMPAC's venues--the reverberant warmth of the Concert Hall, the intimacy of the Theater, the detailed crispness of Studio 1 and the enveloping diffusion of Studio 2--to explore the sonic properties of contemporary repertoire performed through particular instruments placed in particular spaces.

The event starts at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 11. Tickets are $18.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Thursday, April 9, 2015 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Thursday and must respond by 7 pm that day.

FameLab at EMPAC

famelab final 2014 penguin tv mars conversation

One of the presentations in this year's final included a conversation, in verse, with a penguin puppet.

Could be interesting: FameLab will be at EMPAC Tuesday evening. What's that? Let's go to the blurbage:

Think American Idol...for scientists! FameLab is a panel-judged competition to find the new voices of science across the world. Started in 2005 in the UK, this event is the kickoff to "Season 3" here in the US. Ten young scientists will spin tall-but-true tales of exoplanetary atmospheres, extreme environments here on Earth, the possibility of life on an icy moon in the outer Solar System, and much more - in 3 powerpoint-free minutes each!
And while the judges deliberate, we'll be treated to stories of how science meets science fiction from science advisor to Hollywood, Dr. Kevin Grazier.

The FameLab night at EMPAC is a regional competition for a spot at the final in 2016.

The event is from 7-9 pm Tuesday, July 29. And it's free -- just show up, no pre-registration required.

screengrab: FameLab USA

EMPAC fall 2013 season

Oneohtrix Point Never

Electronic music composer Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) will be there September 12.

The slate for the fall 2013 season at EMPAC is now out. As usual, it includes a wide range of events -- performances, talks, screenings. And many of them are the sort of thing you wouldn't be able to catch somewhere else -- locally, and perhaps anywhere.

A compressed, quick-scan version of the fall schedule is post jump.

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Laurie Anderson on EMPAC

empac_exterior_looking_up.jpg

"You can't explain it to someone, because there's nothing else like it in the world."

Laurie Anderson has a long history of mixing science and art. The experimental artist has invented instruments like a tape bow violin, done a residency at NASA and, for the last year, she's held the first distinguished artist in residence post at EMPAC, where she says science and technology have allowed her to do things she never could have done before.

EMPAC may be a bit of a puzzle to folks outside the media arts world, but inside that world, Anderson says, it's gaining quite a reputation.

"You can't explain it to someone," she says," because there's nothing else like it in the world."

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Drawing: Inflatable Frankenstein at EMPAC

inflatable frankenstein radiohole empac

Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

This Friday at EMPAC is one of those probably-only-at-EMPAC kind of shows: Inflatable Frankenstein, a production from the Brooklyn-based performance collective Radiohole. Blurbage:

Inspired by meditations on horror films, the work of Antonin Artaud, and Ardunio open-source electronics, Radiohole's Inflatable Frankenstein is a visually and sonically driven performance based on Mary Shelley's early life and her novel Frankenstein.
Arising from a world of gods and monsters (and thousands of Walmart and Price Chopper grocery bags) is a desecration too terrible to behold and too beautiful to turn away from, leading to an improbable question: what is it like to be a metaphor for everything?

We have two tickets to the performance, and we're giving them away. To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

If, somewhat like Victor Frankenstein, you were creating something for the Capital Region from different parts, what would it be?

We'll draw one winner at random.

Though it won't help you in the drawing, you'll get unofficial honorary bonus points for also exclaiming, "It's alive!" (Incidentally, Frankenstein never says that about the Creature in Shelley's book, but this isn't a literature class, so we won't let that hold us back.)

Inflatable Frankenstein is Friday at 8 pm at EMPAC. Tickets are $18 each.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Wednesday and must respond by 8 pm that day.

photo: Paula Court

EMPAC fall 2012

tim hecker corn field

Tim Hecker will be performing there at the end of September.

The fall 2012 schedule for EMPAC is now online. A compressed, easy-to-scan version of the slate is after the jump. Be sure to hit the (newly redesigned) EMPAC site for full details.

This season's schedule includes the usual mix of the unusual in all sorts of media -- music, dance, film, animation, science...

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Laurie Anderson named EMPAC's first distinguished artist-in-residence

delusion_Laurie_anderson1.jpg

Laurie Anderson will spend the next three years inventing stuff at EMPAC.

Experimental media and performance artist Laurie Anderson will spend the next three years at RPI as EMPAC's first distinguished artist-in-residence. Anderson has a history of using science and engineering to create new artwork, inventing things like a tape-bow violin and talking stick.

This isn't Anderson's first experience at EMPAC. In 2009 she spent some time there working on a piece called Delusion -- a series of stories about longing, memory and identity that incorporated multidisciplinary elements that included music, visuals, altered voices, and electronic puppetry.

You can get a little bit of a sense of Delusion (and Laurie Anderson's disenchantment with rectangles) in a video clip after the jump. Heads-up: it's not you -- the interviewer is speaking Swedish, but you'll understand what's going on.

Until now EMPAC's residencies have been project specific. There's no word yet on what kind of plans Anderson has for her three year stay in Troy, but EMPAC says it's looking forward to working with her to combine engineering and science to find creative approaches to the arts. They also say Anderson will be sharing some of her creative practices with the campus through lectures, workshops and demonstrations.

Photo: Leland Brewster courtesy of Laurie Anderson

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EMPAC spring 2012

The trailer for one of the onedotzero series being shown at EMPAC this spring.

EMPAC's schedule for spring 2012 is out. And, as we've come to expect, it's full of stuff that looks interesting, weird, challenging, or just... different. The works on this season's slate make use of dance, animation, "actual reality," Walden, Infinite Jest, and mosquitoes.

Here are a handful of dates that caught our eye.

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Tickets for DANCE MOViES at EMPAC

Fanfare for marching band empac

Band, on the run.

Drawing's closed. Winner's been notified.

This Saturday EMPAC will be debuting the results of its most recent DANCE MOViES commissions, which are films that somehow involve dance. For example, here's the description for one of the works, called "Fanfare for Marching Band":

A film following the mayhem created by a ragtag musical militia that embarks on an impotent invasion through a parallel universe, where their exuberant music is out of sync and unheard. The two worlds are finally unified when the band masters the tempo and patience of empathy.

The band -- Mucca Paza -- will also be there to play afterward.

So, not something you see every day. And we have a pair of tickets to give away. To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What's your favorite dance or type of dancing?

This could be anything: swing, hip hop, the Snoopy, the Carlton, whatever.

Four films are on the slate for Saturday, none longer than 20 minutes. The screening starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $6.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Thursday (November 3, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly -- seriously, if you win, we want to give you the tickets) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Thursday and must respond by 10 am Friday (November 4).

photo: Sangphoon Lee

TOP 2011: Round 2: Troy

TOP2011 RD2 Troy

The Collar City is the next stop for Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The pizzerias facing off in this round of pepperoni pizzas:

Giuseppe's (Watervliet) vs. DeFazio's (Troy)

How we got here: DeFazio's posted one the highest ever first round scores, a 77. Giuseppe's grabbed a spot in Round 2 by outstretching Joe's Tavern and Red Front.

So, DeFazio's is the favorite here. Can Giuseppe's pull the monster upset?

We're back at EMPAC for tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2011: Round 1: Troy

TOP2011 RD1 Troy

The Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rolls along to the Troy bracket.

The pizzerias in this opening round pool competition of cheese pizzas:

Returning champ: DeFazio's - Troy
Crowd pick: Giuseppe's - Watervliet
Renee's pick: Joe's Tavern - Cohoes
Committee pick: Red Front - Troy

The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered at EMPAC on the RPI campus...

sunmark pizza banner

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Tickets for 69°S at EMPAC

69 south phantom limb at empac

Antarctica. And puppets.

Update: Drawing's closed. Winner has been emailed!

We have a pair of tickets to giveaway for what looks like an interesting performance at EMPAC this Friday and Saturday: 69°S. From the blurbage:

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton's harrowing expedition to Antarctica in 1914, Phantom Limb unites puppetry, dance, film, history, and photography with contemporary music to create a stunning vision of the great arctic continent--past, present, and future. Dim light plays across a lunar terrain dotted with icebergs. Shackleton's crew, played by half-life-size puppets, struggles to survive in this vast landscape, putting into stark relief the power of endurance and camaraderie and the price of knowledge. With sound that combines the junkyard dog aesthetic of the band Skeleton Key playing live, a score recorded by the Kronos Quartet, and glacial field recordings, 69˚S. mines the inherently bittersweet and complex nature of the Shackleton experience and what the future may hold for this fragile environment.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What place in the Capital Region would you like to explore?

It could be a place you've already been -- or someplace that you just haven't had to chance to get to (for whatever reason). We'll draw one winner at random from the comments.

The performance of 69˚S at EMPAC is a preview ahead of the work's premiere at Dartmouth later this year. The performances are at 8 pm both Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are $18.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 am on Tuesday (September 20, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Tuesday and must respond by 10 am Wednesday (September 21, 2011).

photo: Sarah Walker

EMPAC fall 2011

empac_exterior_looking_up.jpgEMPAC's fall 2011 schedule is out today. And, as usual, it's full of performances that look interesting, different, challenging or just kind of odd.

Here are a few events from the slate that caught our eye...

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Tickets for Euphorie at EMPAC (cancelled)

Update at 3:25 pm!!! We just heard from EMPAC that the performance has been cancelled.
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EMPAC has an interesting show lined up for Thursday: Euphorie. From the blurbage:

The project Euphorie was born from the desire to develop a project based on interactions between video, sound, movement and accidents of life as a 40-minute theatrical performance driven by low-tech tools.

Really, just watch the video the above. That's probably all you need to know. Euphorie is the work by two artists who work under the name 1024 architecture.

AOA has two tickets for the performance and we'd like to give them away -- maybe to you. To enter, just submit a comment answering this question:

What's bright?

We'll draw one winner at random from the comments.

The performance of Euphorie is Thursday at 8 pm at EMPAC. Tickets are $15.

(By the way: we mentioned this show in our "week ahead" post on Sunday. Just a heads-up if you haven't been scanning those.)

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Thursday (May 5, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Thursday and must respond no later than 5 pm that day.

Tickets for Black of the Star at EMPAC

empac black of the starWe have two tickets for this weekend's spacey concert at EMPAC. And we'd like to give them away. Maybe to you.

Here's the description for Gérard Grisey: Le Noir de l'Étoile (Black of the Star):

Radio signals emitted by two pulsars from a distant place in the universe become part of a work played on six percussion stations that surround the audience. This piece was commissioned from Gérard Grisey by the French ensemble Les Percussions de Strasbourg, which will perform at EMPAC. Grisey has been called one of the founders of so-called spectral music (a label he later disowned). In this piece, the evolution of timbres played by instruments, and of sound colors as they expand, explore the great complexities of what our ears can hear, and take the audience on a journey inside the sound of music. Not only is the space "out there" brought into the Concert Hall, the hall itself is made part of the experience by placing the performers, instruments, and loudspeakers around the audience.

The concert starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $15.

Also, before the concert, there will be a free talk about music and celestial bodies with an astrophysicist who studies black holes.

But, right, the tickets -- to enter the drawing, answer this question in the comments:

What's the most "out there" thing you've come across lately?

We'll draw one winner at random.

Important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be eligible. One person will win a pair of tickets. You must submit your comment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, February 24, 2011. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 10 am on Friday -- and must respond by 3 pm that day.

Yep, EMPAC does advertise on AOA.

Jeopardy: man vs machine, at EMPAC

This will probably qualify as the nerdiest thing you will do all month: the three episodes of Jeopardy in which the IBM super computer Watson plays against humans will be shown on the big screen in EMPAC's concert hall next week. Before each show there will be a discussion with experts in artificial intelligence.

The team behind Watson is led by RPI alumnus David Ferrucci and includes many other RPI alumni. Watson will be playing against Jeopardy grand master Ken Jennings and all-time money winner Brad Rutter. Watson already won a test match against the two humans (embedded above). As someone said to us recently of the matchup: "John Henry-tastic, right?" (But can Watson answer this important question: why is Alex Trebek such a jerk?)

The shows will air February 14, 15, and 16. There will be refreshments in the cafe at EMPAC starting at 6 pm, discussion at 6:45 and the show starts at 7:30 pm. It's open to the public (we checked), but you do have to register.

EMPAC Spring 2011

empac_concert_hall_ceiling.jpgEMPAC's spring 2011 slate is officially out -- and, as usual, it's full of stuff that looks interesting, challenging, and weird (you know, in the good way.)

Here are a handful of shows/exhibits/performances that caught our eye...

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Confirmed: EMPAC looked at for Iron Man 3

empac_bottom_look_up.jpgAfter mentioning the rumors about EMPAC possibly being used as location for the next Iron Man movie on Monday, we heard from multiple sources that members of the RPI administration talked about the possibility at this week's Student Senate meeting. So we followed up for an official confirmation.

And here it is, via EMPAC media rep Jason Steven Murphy:

We can further confirm, as you have seen around the internet, that Marvel was given a tour some time back in regards to possibly using EMPAC as a location for the "Iron Man 3" shoot.

So, there you go. Giving a location scout a tour is a long way from Robert Downey Jr actually showing up in EMPAC's lobby. But it's a fun thought, right?

ComicBookMovie.com reported that EMPAC was being scouted as "the secret lab of the unspecified villain in Iron Man 3." If this unspecified villain's MO includes using mixed-media in non-standard narrative performances, you gotta figure EMPAC's at the top of the list.

Iron Man 3 is slated to be released in May 2013 (the character will make an appearance in the Avengers movie slated for 2012). So, you figure shooting (wherever it happens) will probably start sometime late next year or in early 2012.

Earlier on AOA: EMPAC for Iron Man 3?

EMPAC for Iron Man 3?

empac_exterior_looking_up.jpg

Fit for a villain?

Update December 1, 2010 RPI has confirmed a location scout did tour EMPAC for possibly using it in Iron Man 3.
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Totally unconfirmed, should-be-taken-with-a-shaker-of-salt rumor of the day: EMPAC is being scouted as a location for the next Iron Man movie.

From a post last week at ComicBookMovie.com:

And I was also tipped months ago that from an attendee, a Marvel Studios rep took a tour of the Experimental Media Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), location scouting for a place in the multi-venue center, located in Troy, New York to act as the secret lab of the unspecified villain in Iron Man 3. The attendee included that no decision was final, but was under consideration.

For what it's worth, this same rumor popped up in an IMDB comment thread in September. And EMPAC does look the part.

We contacted EMPAC's media rep, Jason Steven Murphy, to see what was up. His response via email:

EMPAC at Rensselaer is always involved in numerous ongoing discussions with various parties, related to work and/or performances that could take place here. As a matter of policy, we generally do not make any announcements until and if any final arrangements have been made and agreements have been signed.

OK, kind of what we expected. But it wasn't a denial, either.

Iron Man 3 is slated to be released in May 2013 (Iron Man -- and Robert Downey Jr -- will make an appearance in the Joss Whedon-directed Avengers movie in 2012). So, you figure shooting (wherever it happens) will probably start sometime late next year or in early 2012.

Uncertain Spectator at EMPAC

empac uncertain spectators wolfson

A still from Jordan Wolfson's "Con Leche" video piece, part of "Uncertain Spectators"

Looks interesting: EMPAC has a genre-spanning exhibition called "Uncertain Spectator" opening Thursday evening. From the blurb:

A group exhibition confronting anxiety in contemporary art, Uncertain Spectator asks individuals to cross a threshold -- to place themselves in situations riddled with tension, confront deeply charged emotional content, and grapple with feelings of apprehension. The works presented deal with a general mood of uneasiness arising from recent political and economic events that frames a future rife with imminent threats. Uncertain Spectator not only responds to these unsettling situations, but also creates them by challenging individuals to step outside of a place of comfort both physically and emotionally.

Hmm. Shocking they were able to mine recent events for feelings of apprehension.

Among the special events that are part of Thursday's exhibition opening:

+ A performance by the Troy Chainsaw Ensemble

+ A screening of Lars von Trier's film Dancer in the Dark, which stars Bjork.

Events get started at 6 pm. It's free. And we hear there will be free snacks, too.

The exhibition runs through January 29.

Bonus Thursday stuff to do: The annual B3nson Family Funsgiving is Thursday night at Valentine's. Many of the collective members are lined up to perform: We Are Jeneric, If Madrid, Scientific Maps, Que Caro, Barons in the Attic, Sgt Dunbar, and Beware! The Other Head of Science. $10 at the door, $8 with a non-perishable food item.

Yep, EMPAC has advertised on AOA in the past

image: Jordan Wolfson via EMPAC

Nao Bustamante at EMPAC

s&g sm.jpgPerformance artist -- and RPI professor -- and reality show contestant -- Nao Bustamante will be performing her work called "Silver and Gold" at EMPAC Wednesday night. From a blurb:

Silver & Gold (runtime, 45 min) combines film, live performance, and original costumes into a self-proclaimed "filmformance" in which Ms. Bustamante evokes the muse of legendary filmmaker Jack Smith and his tribute to 1940s Dominican movie starlet Maria Montez in a magical and joyfully twisted exploration of race, glamour, sexuality, and the silver screen.

Here's a trailer for the piece (might be NSFW). It looks... well... we're not quite sure what it looks like. That's probably part of the point.

The performance starts at 7:30 pm in EMPAC's Studio 1.

Earlier on AOA:
+ RPI's Nao Bustamante on Bravo's "Work of Art"

Yep, EMPAC has advertised on AOA in the past.

Laurie Anderson at EMPAC

laurie_anderson.jpgPerformance artist Laurie Anderson will be at EMPAC this weekend for a work called Delusion. From the blurb:

Produced in part during Laurie Anderson's multiple residencies at EMPAC last year, Delusion is a meditation on life and language by way of music, video, and storytelling. Conceived as a series of short mystery plays, Delusion jump-cuts between the everyday and the mythic. Employing violin, electronic puppetry, music, visuals, altered voices, and imaginary guests, Anderson weaves a complex story about longing, memory, and identity. At its heart is the pleasure of language and a fear that the world is made entirely of words. Delusion tells its story in the colorful and poetic language that has become Anderson's trademark.

Here's a short review in the Guardian. Q&A with Anderson by The Economist's Intelligent Life.

There are two performances -- Friday and Saturday night at eight. EMPAC's site currently lists the tickets as "limited" and "very limited." Tickets are $15.

EMPAC has advertised on AOA in the past. And they were nice enough to allow us to taste pizza there.

photo courtesy EMPAC and Laurie Anderson

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then

This could be interesting/odd/compelling: EMPAC is screening Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then Friday night. It's a stop-motion film, using live actors and wooden characters, directed by Brent Green. From the blurb:

Based on the true tale of Kentucky hardware clerk Leonard Wood, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then tells an inspiring, poignant, and darkly humorous love story of a man who built a bizarre and sprawling home for his wife by hand in the hope that it would cure her of terminal cancer. Accompanied by a stellar band of musicians that include Brendan Canty (Fugazi), Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Catherine McRae, and others, Green uses intense narration ranging from quiet, vulnerable storytelling to cathartic fumes bordering on the evangelistic.

The screening starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $15.

EMPAC Fall 2010

laurie anderson empac fall 2010The schedule for the upcoming fall season at EMPAC is out. And, as we've come to expect, it includes a bunch of interesting/odd/challenging shows.

Here are a few that caught our eye while scanning the list...

(there's more)

The Epicurean to manage EMPAC cafe

empac_cafe.jpgNews to us: the well-regarded French cafe The Epicurean has taken over management of Evelyn's Cafe at EMPAC (the restaurant mentioned this on their Facebook page a few weeks back). The arts center says the cafe will now be open even when there aren't performances.

The Epicurean already has a location on Route 7 in Rensselaer County. And it took over the former Vin Santo in Latham earlier this year.

Yep, EMPAC advertises on AOA.

Tickets for Diplo and onedotzero_adventures in motion

diplo

That's him

Update: Congratulations to Chrystal -- she's the winner!

Update: The drawing's closed. Thanks for entering!

Diplo -- superstar DJ, producer, songwriter, M.I.A.-collaborator -- is playing EMPAC April 30 (that's a Friday). And unless you have already have a ticket -- you can't go. It's sold out.

Or... maybe you can. AOA has two tickets to the Diplo show and screening passes to the whole onedotzero_adventures in motion festival. And we'd like to give them away. To you, possibly.

So, here's how to enter the drawing. Playing on the DJ/producer theme, answer this question in the comments:

Across all types of media, what's your favorite re-mix, remake, mashup or cover?

The field of possible answers here is very broad -- everything from The Grey Album to the Hendrix version of "All Along the Watchtower" to Ocean's Eleven to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Diplo is just one part of the onedotzero weekend-long festival. From the EMPAC blurb:

The London-based onedotzero_adventures in motion festival returns to EMPAC with a delirious showcase of the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small, screen-based graphics to large-scale installations, not to mention screenings, music videos, live events and workshops.
Highlights include a late-night performance by DJ superstar Diplo with area VJs, a video installation by Brian Alfred, and a new mind-boggling audiovisual performance by artist in residence AntiVJ with music by minimal techno mastermind Sleeparchive.

It should be quite the weekend.

Important: All qualifying comments must be submitted by 11:59 am on Wednesday April 21, 2010. A working email address must be submitted with the comment. One entry per person. The winner will be notified via email by 9 am on April 22 and must respond with their full name by 5 pm that same day. The winner must pick up the tickets for the Diplo show at EMPAC by 11 pm on April 30, or the tickets will be released (they will be ready by 8 pm that night). The same goes for the screening passes -- all screenings are first come, first serve, so the winner should get their screening passes at 8 PM that night as well.

Mark Changizi: Alien Vision Revolution

alien vision eye changiziThis could be interesting: RPI cognitive scientist Mark Changizi will be giving a talk about human vision Wednesday evening. From the blurb:

Why do humans see in color? Why do we have eyes on the front of our heads, like cats, rather than on the sides, like horses? And how is it that we find it so easy to read when written language did not exist until a few thousand years ago--a virtual millisecond in evolutionary time? These are just a few of the riddles theoretical neurobiologist Mark Changizi explores in his talk on Alien Vision Revolution. Searching for the design principles behind color vision, binocularity, motion, and object recognition, Changizi suggests what they say about human nature and the circumstances in which it was formed. He also uses those principles to extrapolate how extraterrestrial beings would be likely to see--probably the same sorts of writing but not the same colors, and not with eyes that face forward.

Changizi recently published a book last year called The Vision Revolution, about recent scientific insights into human vision. Commented Melinda Wenner for Scientific American MIND: "One thing is certain: The Vision Revolution will make you wonder the next time you notice someone blush, catch a ball or finish reading a magazine page."

Changizi's talk is at 7 pm at EMPAC. It's free and open to the public.

Dancing on the Ceiling at EMPAC

dotc empac

As we understand it, there will be no Lionel Ritchie.

EMPAC has a group exhibition coming up that looks like it'll be worth exploring. From the blurb for Dancing on the Ceiling:

Dancing on the Ceiling will bring together artworks that use the metaphor of floating or weightlessness as an expression of the relationship of the individual to social, political or personal contexts. In addition, several of the pieces relate to lightness as akin to an agility of mind, freed of entrenched perspectives.
...
The artworks in the exhibition deploy helium, parabolic flight, rigging, and digital effects. They feature floating performers, an upside-down kitchen, an isolation tank and skateboarders freed from physical laws. They evoke the golden age of space exploration and the dreams of the counter-culture. Dancing on the Ceiling is a provocative convergence of time-based photography, sculpture, installation, and video.

The opening reception is this Thursday from 6-10 pm, when the building will open so people can check out all the exhibits. It's free.

Bonus: There will be a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey on EMPAC's 56-foot screen that night at 7 pm. Douglas Trumbull, the special effects director for 2001 and many other films, will be giving a talk beforehand.

image: Dennis Darzacq

Just Noticeable Difference extended

empac jndEMPAC has expanded the run of Chris Salter's Just Noticeable Difference installation because of demand. From the blurb:

On entering the installation the visitor is immersed in an environment of near-total darkness, insulated against external sound and vibration. Sparked by an array of sophisticated built-in sensors and devices that emit micro-levels of tactile, auditory, and visual feedback, the slightest motions cause this environment to respond, though so subtly as to test the limits of both perception and interpretation. The result is a revelatory aesthetic experience in which noise shifts towards order, sensation becomes sense, and the apparent randomness of threshold sensory impressions gives way to a new understanding of meaning in the relationship among body, self, and external world.

The installation will now be open until Friday. You have to get a reservation to check it out: 276-3921.

Disclosure: Yep, EMPAC gave us concert tickets to giveaway recently. We're mentioning this installation because it sounds weird and different (in a good way).

The poetic enchantment of math -- and dinner

crochet coral IFF

A mathematically precise model of a hyperbolic pane -- made with crochet.

This could be interesting/nerdy/fun: science writer Margaret Wertheim will be speaking at EMPAC Wednesday night on "mathematics as poetic enchantment."

Wertheim is co-founder of the Institute for Figuring. From the org's site:

The Institute's interests are twofold: the manifestation of figures in the world around us and the figurative technologies that humans have developed through the ages. From the physics of snowflakes and the hyperbolic geometry of sea slugs, to the mathematics of paper folding, the tiling patterns of Islamic mosaics and graphical models of the human mind, the Institute takes as its purview a complex ecology of figuring.

Here's a TED talk by Wertheim about hyperbolic space, coral and crocheting. And here's a NYT article about her Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project.

The evening is also a dinner date -- the talk is in the cafe at EMPAC and will feature food by the Epicurean.

The talk starts at 6 pm. Tickets are $15.

image: Dr. Diana Taimina / IFF

EMPAC's spring schedule

empac_concert_hall.jpgThe schedule for the upcoming season at EMPAC is out and it includes a bunch of events that look interesting/challening/odd/beautiful.

Here are a few that caught our eye...

(there's more)

Encounters at the End of the World

encounters end of the earth

From the doc.

EMPAC will be screening Werner Herzog's documentary Encounters at the End of the World this evening. From Manohla Dargis' review in NYT:

Few filmmakers make the end of days seem as hauntingly beautiful as Werner Herzog does, or as inexorable. In his documentary "Encounters at the End of the World," this professional madman and restlessly curious filmmaker travels to the blinding white of the Antarctic, where he meets melancholic scientists, brooding journeymen and various poets of the soul who, ensconced in the American headquarters, McMurdo Station, have traveled so far beyond the familiar coordinates -- so far beyond traditional cities, suburbs and banal existence -- that they might as well be on another planet.

Herzog has directed a whole bunch of films -- including the well-regarded 2005 doc Grizzly Man.

The screening starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $5.

Dan Deacon (and more) at EMPAC

dan deacon

Dan Deacon performing in Philly last year.

EMPAC has show lined up for Friday night that looks interesting/fun/different/definitely not boring -- Skeletons, Luciano Chessa and Dan Deacon. To wit:

+ Pitchfork called Skeltons' 2007 album Luca "an outsize global-a-go-go mélange of unceasing polyrhythms, Afrobeat guitars, free jazz, and Timbaland's approach to kitchen-sink percussion."

+ Pianist Luciano Chessa is a professor who studies 20th-century music, experimental music, late 14th-century music and Italian hip-hop. He also apparently will be playing a composition for piano and stuffed animals.

+ And here's how NPR's Bob Boilen described a recent performance by Dan Deacon:

Dan Deacon is more like a ringleader than your typical rock star. He's also unassuming. Deacon, a 27 year-old musician from Baltimore, is balding and heavyset with nerdy glasses held together with tape and a goofy smile. But he managed to turn the 9:30 Club audience into a complete circus, transforming the audience into wildly frenetic participants more ably than any other artist I've seen.

Deacon's music has been described as "wildly addictive, electro freak-pop" -- though it just kind of sounds like a party to us.

The show starts Friday at 8 pm in EMPAC's concert hall. Tickets are $15.

photo: Flickr user chriszak

The Sounds of Science

seahorse xray

Painleve is also know for his films about octopi.

EMPAC has something that looks nerdy/beautiful/cool going on Thursday evening. It's "Unfiction" series will be showing The Sounds Of Science, eight short films by French filmmaker Jean Painlevé. And get this: the films have an original score by Yo La Tengo.

Here's a blurb about Painleve from the Criterion Collection (there's also a clip at that link):

The mesmerizing, utterly unclassifiable science films of Jean Painlevé (1902-89) have to be seen to be believed: delightful, surrealist-influenced dream works that are also serious science. The French filmmaker-scientist-inventor had a decades-spanning career in which he created hundreds of short films on subjects ranging from astronomy to pigeons to, most famously, such marine-life marvels as the sea horse and the sea urchin.

The screening starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are required, but they're only $5.

image: Buste d'Hippocampe, Jean Painlevé 1931 © Les Documents Cinématographiques, Paris

Boredoms and Deerhunter at EMPAC

boredoms

They're a little different.

EMPAC has a show lined up next Friday that's, well, we're not sure exactly what to think. But we're pretty sure it's not going to be boring.

Japanese noise rock bank Boredoms will be doing their thing. And you really just have to listen/see it to understand what that is. EMPAC describes it as "omnivorous, free-ranging aural play." You're probably going to love it or hate it.

Also on the slate that night is "ambient punk" band Deerhunter, which when compared to Boredoms sounds downright prosaic. They'd be a good show all by themselves. Together it should be quite the evening.

Tickets are $15. The show starts September 11 at 8 pm in EMPAC's concert hall.

photo: Boredoms

EMPAC: a beached ocean liner?

empac exterior

Not everyone's on board.

That's how William Morgan, "a Providence based architectural writer," described the RPI building in a piece in the Hartford Courant:

It is a maddeningly frustrating piece of architecture, crammed with lots of goodies but not a lot of goodness. Granted, the spaces may work well for performances, but few of them inspire forms that sing. There's lots of technological power in the huge building, but not much poetry. Designers pray for clients with a bottomless budget, yet one wonders if a little more struggle might have resulted in a building that was a less ponderous and more taut -- Gregorian chant rather than Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

He also called it "the boldest -- maybe most outrageous -- building to appear in upstate New York in decades."

This isn't the first negative criticism of EMPAC's design. On his Kunstlercast podcast, James Howard Kunstler said of EMPAC: "It's like if you were to put on a clown suit and jump up and down on the highest part of your city and point at yourself and say, 'Look at me, I'm special.'"

Others have been very complimentary. NYT's Dennis Overbye called it "a technological pleasure dome for the mind and senses". James R. Oestreich, also in NYT, declared it "the concert hall of the 21st century." And Cool Hunting said "EMPAC fuses the best aspects of the arts, science and technology" in naming the center one of its top five buildings of 2008.

Earlier on AOA: A photo tour of EMPAC

(Thanks, Duncan)

Just so you know: EMPAC has advertised on AOA this year

Zidane at EMPAC

zidane

All Zizou, all the time.

EMPAC's "unfiction" series continues this Friday with a screening of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

The documentary follows soccer great Zinedine Zidane* through the course of a 2005 club match -- literally. Seventeen cameras were used to shoot Zidane -- and only Zidane -- the whole time.

Wrote Manhola Dargis in NYT:

You learn little by way of hard facts about the adored French soccer star and famous head-butter Zinédine Zidane in the formalist exercise that bears his name. But after 90 absorbing minutes watching him walking and running across a field in "Zidane," dripping and pouring sweat, inscrutably staring into space and the breathing, cheering wall of humanity circling him, and leaping and twisting into the air to guide the ball toward victory, he will seem more expressively human, less of an aesthetic conceit and more of a man, than he does at the start of this self-described "21st Century Portrait."

Added Wired: "Zidane plays like an extremely expensive, star-driven conceptual art project."

Here's the trailer.

EMPAC is showing Zidane Friday at 8 pm in its theater. Tickets are $5. Word is this could be a sell-out, so you might want to think about buying ahead of time.

*For those who don't follow soccer (er, football), Zidane is one of the greatest players of the last decade -- and maybe of all time. And, yep, he's also the guy who bizarrely head butted an opposing player during the 2006 World Cup.

still: Universal

Constructing EMPAC in 8 minutes

empac time lapseCheck out this cool time-lapse video of EMPAC's construction. It's a little long, but it's interesting to see how a building like that comes together.

(If you'd like to watch it really quickly, wait for the the video to buffer and then slide the dot on the progress bar ahead.)

Earlier on AOA:
+ A photo tour of EMPAC

Overheard at EMPAC

empac_gangplanks.jpgA few snippets of overheard conversation from Friday's opening.

Younger student-looking guy to older alumnus-looking guy

"Yeah, I did hear about the strippers at the field house."

(there's more)

EMPAC in motion

Updated with another video Monday night

Sebastien has posted a few video clips from the performances at EMPAC this past weekend. After watching them, it's maybe a little easier to get a sense of how the performances spaces are being/could be used. Here's a clip from the studio space with the 360 degree screen:


EMPAC Opening - Workspace Unlimited (Short) - Troy, NY - 08, Oct from Sébastien Barré on Vimeo.

Sebastien also has a photo set posted on Flickr.

More video clips -- including a really weird one -- embedded after the jump.

(there's more)

A photo tour of EMPAC

empac_ribbon_cutting_scene.jpg

The scene at today's opening.

RPI cut the ribbon on EMPAC today. And you know what? It's pretty cool. There's nothing else like it in the Capital Region. Heck, there's probably nothing else like it in the world right now. You should definitely check it out.

A lot of people have already written about all the crazy artistic and technological potential at this place, so we'll leave that to them. We did take a tour today, though.

Here are a bunch of pics...

(there's more)

Albany could charge for garbage by the bag, state to consider privatizing assets, cops in dispute over shot of Jagermeister, buzz and grumbing about EMPAC, Weathervane closes

The City of Albany could be moving toward a "pay as you throw" arrangement for garbage collection -- that is, people would be charged by the bag for their trash. (Trash pickup is currently not a separate charge for residents.) The proposal is part of the city's draft plan to the state DEC for its dump, which will be full by next year if it's not expanded. [TU]

David Paterson is setting up a commission to study ways the state could form public/private partnerships to help steady its finances. One such idea would be privatizing the state lottery, which reportedly could bring in as much as $4 billion up front and $200 million annually. [NYT] [AP]

The Albany gun buyback program has been extended to Schenectady. (Earlier on AOA: The Albany gun buyback: buyer's remorse?)

Niskayuna's town supervisor has proposed a five percent tax increase for next year. He says the money's need to cover increasing costs for materials such as asphalt and road salt. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Father to be charged with murder of child, Rensselaer DA watching money evaporate, neighborhood wants to go after negative news coverage, where's Beboy?

A four-month-old baby, who was beaten by his father in Troy, has died. Authorities said yesterday they would charge the father with murder if the child died. [TU]

A replica of a WWII plane crashed yesterday afternoon at the Schenectady County Airport during a test flight. The test pilot, who's from Saratoga, is in critical condition. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The New York State comptroller's office has extended its OpenBook New York database to local governments. [Biz Review]

George Amedore, the Republican incumbent in the 105th state Assembly district (Tonko's old seat), says his opponent, Democrat Mark Blanchfield, has unfairly taken his words about how he views his Assembly job out of context in a radio spot. Blanchfield's sticking by the ad. [WNYT]

The Rensselaer County District Attorney's office is watching almost half of its budget disappear as grants it's relied on run out. The $1 million in grants fund the salaries of five ADAs and four investigators. [Troy Record]

(there's more)

NYT on EMPAC: "A technological pleasure dome for the mind and senses"

EMPAC.jpgThe science section of today's NYT has a preview of EMPAC (it looks like Dennis Overbye toured it this past summer) and, yes, the phrase "technological pleasure dome for the mind and senses" really does appear in it. Here's another clip:

Within its walls, the designers say, scientists can immerse themselves in data and fly through a breaking wave or inspect the kinks in a DNA molecule, artists can participate in virtual concerts with colleagues in different parts of the world or send spectators on trips through imaginary landscapes, and architects can ponder their creations from the inside before a single brick or two-by-four has been put in place.

It opens for business on Oct. 3 with a three-week gala of performances including classical music, virtual reality rides, symposiums and celebrations. Some scientists dream of eventually using the new center to create a version of the "Star Trek" holodeck where humans can interact with life-size "synthetic creatures" who live only in a computer. Others plan to teach surgery by doing virtual procedures or taking doctors on tours through models of actual hearts and circulatory systems.

A holodeck? Everyone knows the holodeck episodes were the worst.

Seriously, we are excited about EMPAC. We've heard from multiple people that it's going be very cool. It opens October 3.

image: Grimshaw / RPI

Pay up or EMPAC gets it?

EMPAC.jpg

EMPAC

So there was that story the other day about how Troy wants to charge RPI a "safety fee" of $100 per student per semester. The city says it spends a bunch of money on services for the school and it's looking to recoup some of the expenses. OK, this sounds like a discussion that reasonable people can have.

But then toward the end of the TU story, there was this:

The discussions about a public safety fee come as EMPAC is nearing its October opening and RPI must obtain a certificate of occupancy to use the arts center.

"RPI is noted for saying we're having a grand opening and inviting everyone before they have a CO," [Deputy Mayor Dan] Crawley said. "If the invitations go out for October and their place is not completed, they're not going to get a CO."

And that sounded a lot like, what's the word... oh, right: a shakedown. But, no, that couldn't be right. The City of Troy wouldn't hold the opening of EMPAC ransom over this safety fee, would it? This is a municipality and an institution with 180 years of shared history. That would just be... tacky.

So we made a few calls. Here's what we found.

(there's more)

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