This year, EMPAC’s signature 220,000-square foot building, which foregrounds creative experimentation by giving artists access to some of the most sophisticated and cutting edge technologies in the field, celebrates its 15-year anniversary. Although EMPAC’s curatorial program pre-dates the building’s historic opening in 2008, this is the fifteenth year that artists, researchers, and audiences have come together under one roof to explore the boundaries of art, science, and technology.
Salon Mondialité (September 22) is vocalist and electronic musician Miho Hatori’s exploration of memory, identity, and colonization inspired by the work of philosopher Edouard Glissant. Presented as an experimental talk-show, the work substitutes segments with sound stories, combining composed and improvised music with guest performances against the backdrop of a video installation. Hatori is a Japanese-born and New York City-based musician who gained popularity in the 1990s with the band Cibo Matto.
Moving away from Large Language Models (LLMs) towards what the artist calls “Small Barbie Models (SMBs),” Evidence of Labor: State of the Kitchen (September 29) is an EMPAC-commissioned dance work by artists Michelle Ellsworth and Satchel Spencer that considers different forms of labor. The work features three dancers on stage interacting with two sets of wooden kitchens and an original Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) based on choreographic and performance habits. It attempts to duplicate ChatGPT’s labor–to better understand the ethics involved in outsourcing the act of writing and meaning-making–and functions as a Reverse Turing Test, a prototype for life After-AI (AA), and a birth canal.
The following month, EMPAC presents Plasmatic Music (October 6), a concert in two parts with pieces by the late iconoclastic Romanian-French composer Horațiu Rădulescu. A pioneer of “spectral music,” Rădulescu explores the volatility and mysticism of sound itself, creating a wholly unexpected, provocative, and visceral experience for the listener. The program features performer/composers Sam Dunscombe (clarinet and electronics), James Rushford (organ), and Rebecca Lane (flute).
Elemental View (October 24) is a work in six movements by pioneering composer Ellen Fullman for her Long String Instrument and The Living Earth Show. The immense instrument installation, with its precisely tuned and configured 136 strings, takes full advantage of EMPAC’s Concert Hall acoustics, filling the space with its glistening atmosphere and giving the audience the experience of bathing in the sound of the instrument’s immersive and expansive resonance. This performance continues The Living Earth Show’s multi-season residency at EMPAC. TLES is an electroacoustic duo who pushes the boundaries of technical and artistic possibility while amplifying voices, perspectives, and bodies that the classical music tradition has often excluded.
The Shifting Center exhibition (offsite October 28-29 and onsite November 3-18) is the culmination of EMPAC’s ambitious, multi-year curatorial project on architecture, acoustics, and the politics of sound in museums and contemporary art exhibitions that opens to the public this Fall. For the first time in a decade, EMPAC’s concert halls, stages, and studios—which are tuned for acoustically-differentiated experiences of sounding and listening—are converted into a series of exhibition spaces where existing and newly commissioned works of sculpture, moving-image, and sound are presented throughout and beyond its walls. Artists include Tania Candiani, Padmini Chettur and Maarten Visser, Beatriz Cortez, Guillermo Escalón and Igor de Gandarias, Hugo Esquinca, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Micah Silver, and Clarissa Tossin among others.
EMPAC’s fall 2023 season also includes public tours, screenings, and conversations with future artists in residence, including composers/performers Jesse Marino and Antonia McIntosh-Barnett; choreographer Alexis Blake; and artist and preeminent scholar on disability studies Petra Kuppers. The season closes with a film screening In Pursuit: Short Films curated by EMPAC’s newly appointed assistant curator Katherine Adams. The series of short films centers on forms of furtive mobility–chase, exilic evasion, urgent travel, and outlawed movement–such as Miko Revereza’s Distancing.