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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

Enabling the development of human-scale, digitally enhanced immersive environments is what EMPAC was designed for from its very beginning.

EMPAC is the platform where the arts, research, science, and engineering meet under the same roof and breathe the same air. Unmatched in the world in terms of its combination of technical capabilities, building facilities, and programs spanning arts and the sciences, EMPAC is also the venue in which the Rensselaer IDEA can be most appreciated via sight, sound, and other senses.

Opened in 2008, EMPAC was designed and constructed specifically to allow groups of different sizes-from one to 1,200 people-to experience and collaborate in immersive environments that can be outfitted with an infinitely customizable modular array of displays, speakers, cameras, and sensor technology. This technology has a direct connection via underground optical fiber to the CCI supercomputers.

Visually representing data, particularly esoteric or large volumes of information, can be challenging for researchers, and can often present a stumbling block for students and faculty as they try to convey the impact and importance of their work to their peers, funding agencies, or the general public. EMPAC and the Rensselaer IDEA are developing next-generation visualization and analytical tools to help make displaying, exploring, and interacting with this data easier than ever before.
 

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"The Rensselaer IDEA finds an ideal research platform at EMPAC," Goebel says. "It is no longer the computer monitor or small screen that can be used for the exploration of data. What is needed is an environment which can envelop the researchers and where they can work collaboratively at a scale which is natural to us human scale. At EMPAC, we researchers can move through the space to discover details in the projection, we they can jointly stand inside a data visualization as if standing in a landscape, on a mountain, or in a valley, and point others to what we they discover and see."

Navigating with our eyes and ears, he says, is the best way to arrive at new conclusions and discover complex patterns within large data sets. EMPAC also appeals to the ears of researchers, and has capabilities for the sonification of data-mapping data into the auditory domain.

Enabling the development of human-scale, digitally enhanced immersive environments is what EMPAC was designed for from its very beginning. Research at EMPAC over the years has developed unique approaches and tools, which will benefit the Rensselaer IDEA and contribute to its broad mission in outstanding ways.
 

 

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The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) is a multi-venue arts center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, which opened on October 3, 2008. The director of EMPAC is Johannes Goebel. He was previously the director of the Institute for Music and Acoustics, which he founded at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. EMPAC's curatorial team includes: Argeo Ascani - Associate Curator of Music and Sound Art, Victoria Brooks - Curator for Time-Based Visual Arts, Ash Bulayev - Curator for Dance & Theater, Emily Zimmerman - Assistant Curator. The building is named after Curtis Priem, co-founder of NVIDIA and graduate of the RPI Class of 1982, who donated $40 million to the Institute in 2004.