Six people standing in a field looking at a projection of black waves on a barn.

Empathy School

Aaron Landsman + Brent Green
Saturday, October 4, 2014, at 6:30 + 8PM

An immersive performance set on a bus driving through post-industrial landscape surrounding Troy, NY. You will board at sunset and hear stories about time and separation. The stories will be accompanied by an ambient score that respond to the movement of the bus, subtly changing with shifts in speed and direction.

This EMPAC-commissioned work was conceived a year ago, while Aaron Landsman lived in central Illinois as his wife completed graduate school at the University of Illinois. Landsman’s work often took him out of town; to get home he flew back into Chicago, and rode a night bus for three hours, overhearing riders’ stories as they spoke to relatives on the phone or talked to one another. The stories were of financial desperation and separated families, reflecting the difficult circumstances of those left in parts of America that were being abandoned by the post-industrial economy.

Produced in collaboration with visual artist and filmmaker Brent Green, Empathy School combines theater, travel, and audio in a contained space where listening to another person’s stories is the only possible act of togetherness. Performed by Jim Findlay.

This event is very limited capacity—please plan accordingly.

Aaron Landsman creates participatory performances that combine formal experimentation with long-term community engagement. Fascinated by urban intimacy, absence, and the changing faces of cities, his works are often staged where people go every day—homes, offices, meeting rooms, and sidewalks. His current work, City Council Meeting, is being presented in New York, Houston, Tempe, and San Francisco, and has involved collaborations with church choirs, engineers, homeless people, a tourism board, high school students, and local government officials. Landsman’s upcoming works include Running Away From The One With The Knife, a play presented at the Chocolate Factory in New York, and Perfect City, with support from the Jerome Foundation, Stanford University, and ASU Gammage, where he is a resident artist. His ongoing project, Appointment, for single viewers in small offices, has been presented in New York, Oslo, and is upcoming in Phoenix in 2014. He has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, and New York University, and has guest lectured widely.

Brent Green is a visual artist, filmmaker, and storyteller working in the Appalachian hills of rural Pennsylvania. Green’s films have screened, often with live musical accompaniment, in venues such as MoMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Walker Art Center, Hammer Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Wexner Center for the Arts, The Kitchen, Indianapolis Museum of Art, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Sundance Film Festival. Often, his sculptural work and large-scale installations are displayed alongside his animated films, most recently with solo exhibitions at the ASU Art Museum, Site Santa Fe, Art Without Walls, Diverseworks, and the Berkeley Art Museum. Green has crafted his rickety folk punk style into everything from a feature film (Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, 2010) to a hacked LCD and steel animation machine (To Many Men Strange Fates Are Given, 2012). He is a 2005 Creative Capital grantee. Green’s work is in fine public collections including the Progressive Collection, Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Jim Findlay works across boundaries as a theater artist, visual artist, and film-maker. His most recent work includes his original performances "Dream of the Red Chamber" (2014) and "Botanica" (2012), the direction and design of David Lang's "Whisper Opera" for the Museum of Contemporary Art and Lincoln Center and the soon-to-be complete 3D film adaptation of "Botanica". He was a founding member and collaborator in the Collapsable Giraffe and in partnership with Radiohole helped run the mythical and recently deceased Collapsable Hole from 2000-2013. In addition to his generative work, he maintains a long career as a collaborator with many theater, performance and music groups including Aaron Landsman, the Wooster Group, Ridge Theater, Bang on a Can, Ralph Lemon, Pearl Damour, Stew and Heidi Rodewald, and Accinosco/Cynthia Hopkins. His work has been seen at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BAM, Arena Stage, A.R.T. and over 50 cities worldwide including Berlin, Istanbul, London, Moscow, and Paris and the tiny theater he built in David Lang and Suzanne Bocanegra's home. He has been awarded 3 Obies, 2 Bessies, 2 Princess Grace Awards, Lortel and Hewes Awards and residencies at MacDowell, UCross, MassMOCA and Mt Tremper Arts. Upcoming projects include Aaron Landsman's "Running Away from the One with the Knife" at Chocolate Factory, a new performance installation "Vine of the Dead" at 3LD Art + Technology in May 2015, and the exhibition of his video installation work "Meditation" made in collaboration with Ralph Lemon at the Walker Art Center in September 2015 following it's acquisition in the museum's permanent collection.

Main Image: The EMPAC team does a test projection on a barn in Rensselaer county as part of Empathy School in 2014. Photo: EMPAC/Rensselaer.

Dates + Tickets

Empathy School
Aaron Landsman + Brent Green
Saturday 4
6:30 PM
October 2014
Saturday 4
8:00 PM
October 2014
As part of
Contemporary Performance



Empathy School is made possible by additional funding from The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

EMPAC 2014–15 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, the Boeing Company Charitable Trust, and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks extended to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for continued support of artist commissions.