This is the sort of noble sentiment that excites artists and philosophers, as expressed by Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation, a generous funder of the arts: The arts deepen our understanding of the human spirit, extend our capacity to comprehend the lives of others, allow us to imagine a more just and humane world.

TROY — The folks at RPI know more than one or two things about numbers. Longtime faculty member and composer Neil Rolnick named his recent piano piece Digits, referring to the numerical language of computers and the 10 digits of a performer’s hands. A tour de force for soloist, electronics and video, Digits was a highlight of Rolnick’s 60th birthday concert Saturday night at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Academy Hall Auditorium. The event was presented by the university’s increasingly influential Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center.

Neil Rolnick has spent most of his career putting music and musical ideas into machines, and making them spit it back out again. But it's only in recent years that the composer and longtime Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faculty member, who turned 60 last month, has found the unique musical voice inside himself and been able to embrace it. “I have figured out what my music is about: material that grows organically out of little seeds and with instruments interacting with electronics, so that the electronics become magic.

It’s an unexpectedly warm and humid September night in Troy, and scores of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students are swarming around campus. It’s a Friday, and most are clearly dressed for the usual collegiate hijinks. Some, however, are making their way to tonight’s performance by the Australian dance group BalletLab, which is being presented by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at the RPI Playhouse. An even mix of students and community (or faculty) members, tonight’s crowd reaches up the steps from 15th Street and into the Playhouse lobby.

For Immediate Release TROY, N.Y. —In 2007, its inaugural year, EMPAC’s DANCE MOViES Commission received more than 150 applications from dance-filmmakers in North and South America. As the first major US-based commissioning program available to dance-film artists in the Americas, the DANCE MOViES Commission represents an important opportunity for those working at the intersection of the moving body and the moving image. Selected artists receive awards ranging up to $50,000.

For Immediate Release TROY, N.Y. — EMPAC - the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - announces four projects have been selected by an international panel for this year’s round of the EMPAC DANCE MOViES Commission. With awards ranging from $7,000 to $42,000, the works represent the first commissions given out through this new program.

For Immediate Release TROY, N.Y. — EMPAC - the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - announces the launch of the EMPAC DANCE MOViES Commission, a new commissioning program to support the creation of new works in the field of experimental dance for the screen. Through the DANCE MOViES Commission, EMPAC is specifically targeting artists based in North America and South America to encourage the development of the genre of dance film and video.

From the Schenectady Daily Gazette TROY — In two years, the Capital Region will be home to EMPAC, a $142 million arts center unlike any other in the world. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, scientists and artists will explore and create under one roof, and the 203,000-square-foot building will be equipped with some of the most advanced acoustics and digital technology on the planet.

For Immediate Release TROY, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today announced that Amy and David Jaffe, Class of 1964, have made a gift of $1 million to create the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts. The Jaffe Fund will support commissions, performances, and productions of contemporary work over the next five years.

For Immediate Release TROY, N.Y. — The first in a new series of dance film screenings, Rensselaer's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) presents DANCE MOViES 1 at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21st, 2005. Projected on a large screen on Rensselaer's football field, you will see a selection of short films and experimental videos made by contemporary dancers and filmmakers from all over the world.

For Immediate Release TROY, N.Y. — Marking the midpoint between groundbreaking and opening, Rensselaer's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) presents "EMPAC 360: On Site + Sound" at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 8th, 2005. Rensselaer President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and EMPAC Director Johannes Goebel invite the Rensselaer and Capital Region communities to join them in celebrating the emergence of this unique cultural resource by walking the periphery of the site as the sun sets and performances happen on all sides.