Winnie Huang

Flanders Department of Culture, Youth and Media

In a project sponsored by the Flemish Government’s Department of Culture, Youth, and Media, composer-performer Winnie Huang brings new works by composers Kelly Sheehan and Timothy McCormack which explore the applications of machine learning, the nuance of timbre, and the possibilities for spatiality in employing EMPAC’s Wave Field Synthesis Array.

a woman faces a woman in a chair

Outside / In

Theater Junction

Winner of the EMPAC/CINARS Open Call, Theatre Junction is in residency to develop final staging for their new work Outside / In, including the creation of a large four-room built environment in Studio 1 as well as a livestream video element.

Main Image: Outside / In. Courtesy the artists.

an eye made from trees

Outside / In

Theatre Junction

Outside / In is inspired by the logic of the panopticon–an architectural prison designed by the architect Jeremy Bentham in the 17th century. The principle of the panopticon is simple: a central tower allows the jailers to monitor, without being seen, all the acts and gestures of the prisoners who are locked in small cells in a circular building around the tower. The effect of the panopticon is based on imposing behaviors on the whole population based on the idea that we are being watched, that we are watching each other and that we can be punished or excluded, at any moment if our behavior deviates from what the central power has defined as normal or accepted. If the panopticon concept is extended to the society in which we currently live, we see that social media are taking more and more place in our lives and influencing our behavior. The advent of this panoptic society integrates the omnipresent look of control that monitors and therefore limits thoughts and behaviors. Each person therefore ends up internalizing and exercising this control over himself. The omnipresent gaze is then internalized, as well as the gradual loss of freedom. This relationship between the exterior and the interior inspired the choice of title and is at the heart of the dramaturgy of this new creation, Outside / In.

Work-in-progress events offer a window into the research, development, and production of new works by artists in residence at EMPAC. These free events open up a dialogue between our audiences, artists, and EMPAC staff.

Main Image: Courtesy the artists. 

sage whitson looking on toward a projection in studio 1


A prequel and premiere of The Unarrival Experiments—Unconcealment Ceremonies

Transtraterrestrial, a prequel and premiere of The Unarrival Experiments – Unconcealment Ceremonies is a new live performance work by artist Sage Ni’Ja Whitson designed to amplify the dark. In dialogue with Yorùbá Cosmology, Astrophysics, and research on the “blackest black,” the work centers the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy through a Black, Queer, and Transembodied lens. Dark matter and dark energy serve as portals to interrogating spaces of the unknown, yet have an unequivocated impact on the composition of the universe. The performance and its environment takes an audience through an otherworldly dive into the dark. Led by space conductor, Trans Trappist the Extraterrestrial, this work traverses the dark as an ancestor, embodied transgender technology, and cosmic intervention.

Transtraterrestrial happens inside and outside of a custom-built space|ship, which is uniquely designed as a futuristic space vessel covered in painted organic matter. Whitson worked with architect Valery Augustin to realize the first prototype of this space|ship during an EMPAC residency in 2022. For the space|ship environment of the 2023 prequel and premiere, Whitson worked in collaboration with DNA Architecture + Design, Inc. and Gordon Clement. Its design and fabrication aids in visualizing darkness while also allowing for the seamless integration of immersive VR, projection, and spatial audio. The space|ship cradles performers and witnesses in encounter, collectivity, medicines, and invisibilities.

Main Image:  Sage Ni’Ja Whitson. Photo: Michael Valiquette/EMPAC

four pairs of legs on a black stage.

J’ai pleuré avec les chiens (Time, Creation, Destruction)

Daina Ashbee

After her EMPAC debut with the solo work Serpentine in December 2022, Canadian choreographer Daina Ashbee returns to Troy, NY for the US premiere of the artist’s first ensemble work.

J’ai pleuré avec les chiens (Time, Creation, Destruction) is a live performance saturated with the incisive, sober precision and poetics of explosion and trance that we recognize as Ashbee’s choreographic signature. Between the growling, yelps, tears, and calls from its staged human pack, Ashbee offers EMPAC audiences an evening to observe human bodies in acts of leading and following, piling on all fours, and passing through trance-like states as we consider pain, tenderness, and sensory experiences without narrative boundaries.

Main Image: J’ai pleuré avec les chiens (Time, Creation, Destruction). Courtesy the artist. Photo: Stephanie Paillet.

a nude woman on a black stage laying face down with arms under her body


Daina Ashbee

Serpentine is a solo performance that centralizes choreographic repetition and insistence to explore the occupation of space, time, and attention over the course of two hours. It will be installed in the Lobby of EMPAC. What is designed as a cathartic work for a performer, or interpreter, is staged in close proximity to an audience who might be moved to find their own relationship to repetition and insistence. 

The work vibrates the essence of choreographer Daina Ashbee’s dark and feminine oeuvre and intensely summarizes the artist’s previous three works, Unrelated (2014), When the ice melts, will we drink the water? (2016) and Pour (2016). Each of these performances features subtly specific choreographic exploration and simple imagery that is meant to resonate with many different viewers. At its core, the work is a deep study of bodies in movement as they relate to their environment; cultural, social, performative, and natural circumstances. 

Serpentine includes original electric organ composition by Jean-Francois Blouin. The haunting electric organ creates sonic space for slow, sensual movement to escalate in its violence.

Main Image: Serpentine (2022). Photo: Arnaud Caravielhe

Adam Weinert Film Still


Adam Weinert

What would our anthem be if we wrote it today? What would it sound like, look like, and who should it serve?

Adam Weinert spent years investigating imagery of The American Dream and the radical patriotism of early American modern dance. In his new EMPAC-commissioned ANTHEM, Weinert seeks to reconcile dewy Americana with our society’s deep fissures, inequalities, and environmental degradation.

The movement in ANTHEM draws from a fake news article describing imagined original choreography from 1916 meant to accompany the national anthem. The performers begin to dissect the song and its various incarnations to relate it to a 21st-century America. The choreography reinforces the familiar and patriotic sounds of American nostalgia, yet, the work takes us into new territory that is only achievable through systems of mutual support.

Main Image: Video still from trailer for Adam Weinert’s ANTHEM. Cinematography by Zia Anger.


PROPHET: The Order of the Lyricist


A four-year archival, research, and multi-genre storytelling project on the life journey of a Lyricist. PROPHET: The Order of the Lyricist, illuminates the distinctive practices, systems, philosophies, and political ideologies that have shaped Hip Hop’s Emcee/Lyricists.

Tracing the evolution of artist Mental from Emcee to Lyricist, 7NMS invites audiences to enter a world of mind power, bravery, self-determination, and triumph- facets of the artist's quest for self-realization.

PROPHET makes its own imaginative evening-length performance contribution to the scholarly, civic, and ancient bodies of radical Black expression. Light and moving-image visuals as well as multi-channel audio installation will accompany the live dance and vocal performances. Such environments layering multiple media are the company's signature aesthetic; previous work like Memoirs of a Unicorn featured a built multi-sited environment of sculpture, light, sound, movement, costume, and projection. PROPHET is an extension of this practice that acknowledges the Emcee and Lyricist’s role and presence more explicitly.

While taking its primary shape as a live performance at EMPAC, PROPHET will also manifest as an ethnographic memoir, an experimental film, and an album.

Main Image: Michael Valiquette/EMPAC

a repeating image of a dancer

Northern Sparks: Innovation, Technology Policy, and the Arts in Canada from Expo 67 to the Internet Age

Michael Century

Rensselaer Professor Michael Century is at EMPAC to give a talk celebrating the launch of his new book, Northern Sparks: Innovation, Technology Policy, and the Arts in Canada from Expo 67 to the Internet Age, published by MIT Press.

Understanding how experimental art catalyzes technological innovation is often prized yet typically reduced to the magic formula of “creativity.” In Northern Sparks, Century emphasizes the role of policy and institutions by showing how novel art forms and media technologies in Canada emerged during a period of political and social reinvention, starting in the 1960s with the energies unleashed by Expo 67.

Debunking conventional wisdom, Century reclaims innovation from both its present-day devotees and detractors by revealing how experimental artists critically challenge as well as discover and extend the capacities of new technologies. He offers a series of detailed cross-media case studies that illustrate the cross-fertilization of art, technology, and policy. These cases span animation, music, sound art and acoustic ecology, cybernetic cinema, interactive installation art, virtual reality, telecommunications art, software applications, and the emergent metadiscipline of human-computer interaction. They include Norman McLaren's “proto-computational” film animations; projects in which the computer itself became an agent, as in computer-aided musical composition and choreography; an ill-fated government foray into interactive networking, the videotext system Telidon; and the beginnings of virtual reality at the Banff Centre.

Century shows how Canadian artists approached new media technologies as malleable creative materials, while Canada undertook a political reinvention alongside its centennial celebrations. Northern Sparks offers a uniquely nuanced account of innovation in art and technology illuminated by critical policy analysis.

Michael Century, a musician and media arts historian, is Professor of Music and New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He founded the Media Arts program at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Northern Sparks will be available at a signing table hosted by Market Block Books following the lecture.

northern spark book cover

Main Image: Northern Sparks. Courtesy Michael Century.

New York State DanceForce

The New York State DanceForce will host its annual meetings at EMPAC as a part of the center’s curated artist residency program. The DanceForce, founded in 1994, began as a think-tank to examine problems and opportunities facing the dance field within New York State and with the goal of re-energizing the art form. Since then, the DanceForce has grown to become a statewide network of eighteen dance organizers committed to increasing the amount and quality of dance activity across New York.

An equally important aspect of the DanceForce’s mission is to bring together their members and other regional dance organizers to discuss challenges, share ideas, view new work, and exchange information relevant to the field. These meetings help to link cultural organizers and give them, and the dance communities they serve, increased tools to support dance in their area. EMPAC will serve as the home base for these convenings, and will collaborate with the DanceForce to present the work of Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener as a part of the events.