EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center


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 founding director of EMPAC is Johannes Goebel. He was previously the director and founder of the Institute for Music and Acoustics at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Curatorial Program

EMPAC’s curatorial program is dedicated to the commissioning, production, and presentation of ambitious performances and time-based artworks that foster meaningful engagement among artists, artworks, and our audiences. Over the past 10 years, EMPAC’s curatorial program has brought hundreds of artists to Rensselaer to create and perform new works across three areas of expertise: music, theater and dance, and time-based visual art.

EMPAC is committed to the in-depth support of artists over extended periods of time to realize complex projects that require not only EMPAC’s acoustic, spatial, and visual technological infrastructure, but also the interdisciplinary expertise of its curatorial, production, and administrative staff. 

EMPAC’s artists-in-residence generate the diverse range of events which open the studio doors for campus and the general public. The curated program provides visitors with a breadth of experiences from theatrical productions, concerts, audio and video installations to a rigorous interdisciplinary program of films, talks, and workshops.  

Many artworks produced at the center are made in collaboration with peer institutions, presenters, and museums, expanding the audience for an artist or artwork beyond Rensselaer and the Capital Region, centering Rensselaer within the international discourse around time-based arts and technology.


Curated Residencies

Artist residencies are the heart of the curatorial program at EMPAC. Much of the work that we present is first developed in residency. In some cases, residencies serve as preliminary work for co-commissioned performances that find their premiere elsewhere. In both cases, curated EMPAC residencies figure into the overarching programming vision of the attending curator and often provide space, resources, and expertise unavailable elsewhere.

Example: Commissioned and partially developed through the EMPAC artist-in-residency program, Extra Shapes is a performance for lunging figures, a musical concert for loudspeakers, and a light show.



Curated Events

EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology meet under one roof and breathe the same air. Four exceptional venues enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between our senses, technology, and the worlds we create around us.

he 220,000-square foot building includes many firsts in the fields of acoustics, performing arts infrastructure, and architectural engineering. The integration of these features with audio, video, lighting, computer, and stage rigging networks makes EMPAC an ideal environment for human interaction with digital media.

Both a performing arts center and research and production facility, EMPAC provides an environment that supports the realization of complex artworks and research projects at any stage, from inception to completion.

The center has three curators focused on the areas of time-based visual art, theater, dance, and music. Within an interdisciplinary framework, each EMPAC curator is responsible for supporting the development and production of new works that stretch the boundaries of their field, interface with a diverse roster of international artists, and program challenging, adventurous performances for the Rensselaer campus and Capital Region communities. The team is led by founding director Johannes Goebel, who continues to be involved worldwide in the intellectual exchange on art, science, and technology, pursuing the questions of political, cultural, educational, and aesthetic relevance of the field.

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