Johannes Goebel Addresses the Rensselaer Community on Groundbreaking Day

Goebel Addresses the Rensselaer Community

September 19, 2003

Groundbreaking. Opening the ground for new foundations. Building new walls on new foundations, the creation of space. Space protected from wind, snow, heat and rain, space for human life, human endeavors, and human aspirations. Building walls to create an inside separated and protected from the outside, building a house to allow us to move between inside and outside. We can open ourselves best when we are in a protected environment. This new building is all about protection for opening our senses to create sense.

The ritual of groundbreaking reaches far down. We have to break ground to grow produce, we have to break ground to protect ourselves, we have to break ground to discover new ideas. To break something can be equally destructive as constructive. To break is the destruction necessary before construction. Breaking ground provides the basis for life, breaking ground is the prerequisite for change, and life without change suffocates. The main question is who determines what ground is to be broken, how is the responsibility carried by whom. I believe we cannot force people into happiness - but we can create opportunities, which reach beyond the restrictions every-day life seems to impose on us. EMPAC is about creating opportunities, which let us experience that there is something beyond the restrictions of every-day life.

Why not change the world? Why change the world?

Before we can change the world, we need an opportunity to change ourselves. Such an opportunity may be offered to you, you may elect to change, you may drift into change or you may accept to change by force. The motivation to change stems from the knowledge that "no change" is a lethal weapon in the hands of those who are in power. And "no-change" in the hands of those who do not possess any power is the lethal weapon of self-destruction.

The strongest inhibitors of change are on the one side greed for power and self-righteousness - and on the other side helplessness and depression. Our parents may not have offered us tools for change, our schools may not know how to teach tools for change, our colleagues are afraid of change, we are scared to change. So we spend our energy for change on endless repetitions of the same while making ourselves believe we are alive and a changing.

Seeing no change is an indication that our senses have dulled, that we have dulled our senses and that we are retracting from life. Perceiving no change is an indication that we have turned away from living. So, the finer we can perceive changes, the more potential for a life full of sense and meaning we can develop.

The only purpose of education and research is change. Education and research are always centered on the change of any given status quo. This implies that those who are educating and researching have to not only understand their students or their field of research as changing, but they have to see themselves as changing with their research and in their teaching. This is a very difficult exercise.

Art is all about change. Art offers the opportunity to refine our senses for the perception of what is different, what has changed. Art that does not evoke experiences of change is like a dull knife cutting thick cardboard. We are pursuing cutting edge technology at Rensselear, cutting edge research. What about cutting-edge perception, razor-sharp senses, piercing intellect, heightened awareness, focused attention, burning desire, clear emotions, concentrating experiences? What about all these sides of us human beings, which one cannot grade in class?

We are breaking ground for a building that will provide the best for what constitutes us as human beings as changing beings in the desire for meaning. Art is constituted by seeing, hearing and moving in space; the desire for meaning is expressed and formed by sound, light and bodies. The EMPAC building will be one of the best instruments available for sound, light, bodies and minds. This instrument, this building, is constructed to meet the full potential of our senses, from stillness, darkness and silence to moving sounds, moving images and moving bodies. The EMPAC building will provide the most refined spaces for research and technology that focuses on our senses as the ultimate arbitrator of human communication. The full potential of digital media technology can only be explored in spaces, which are built to meet the full potential of our human senses.

A concert hall to appreciate the finest movement of sound in music, a studio to perceive the slightest and most complex changes of light, a theater as microscope and telescope for human abysms, a studio for bodies touching the mind. A building to invite researchers, artists and audiences to go beyond the expected

I am very happy that we are able to break ground for a unique chance to change towards understanding, expressing and integrating our own complexities. I am very happy we are breaking ground for a building that is unique in the world with its potential to utilize the highly specialized tools of today for the exploration of the outer and inner space of creativity, experience and meaning.

Johannes Goebel