(TROY, N.Y.) – Groundbreaking performance artist Laurie Anderson has been named the inaugural distinguished artist-in-residence at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for a three-year term beginning in 2012. The residency provides Anderson with wide access to space, technology, and support for creative experimentation, but as important, brings the artist into ongoing dialogue with students and faculty at the nation’s oldest technology university.
As one of America’s foremost contemporary artists; a persistent experimenter at the intersection of performance, media, and technology; and an inventor of tools and instruments, Anderson and EMPAC’s exceptional research and production environment for adventurous new work are an ideal match.
Anderson first came to EMPAC as a resident artist in 2009 to complete work on Delusion, a complex series of stories about longing, memory, and identity commissioned by the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. At EMPAC, she found the ideal working environment to try new ideas and integrate the diverse, multidisciplinary elements of the work, including music, visuals, altered voices, and electronic puppetry.
Based on the success of the extensive working relationship between Anderson and EMPAC, founding Time-Based Arts Curator Kathleen Forde and Director Johannes Goebel proposed this new opportunity. “It’s such a great honor to be the first EMPAC distinguished artist- in-residence,” says Anderson. “Working with the crack technical and production teams and having access to EMPAC’s spectacular spaces and resources is such a dream. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity.”
One of America’s most renowned performance artists, Laurie Anderson’s genre-crossing work encompasses performance, film, music, installation, writing, photography, and sculpture. She is widely known for her multimedia presentations and musical recordings and has numerous major works to her credit, including United States I-V (1983), Empty Places (1990), Stories from the Nerve Bible (1993), Songs and Stories for Moby Dick (1999), and Life on a String (2001), among others. She has had countless collaborations with an array of artists, from Jonathan Demme and Brian Eno to Bill T. Jones and Peter Gabriel.
Anderson has invented several technological devices for use in her recordings and performance art shows, including voice filters, a tape-bow violin, and a talking stick. In 2002, she was appointed NASA’s first artist-in-residence, and she was also part of the team that created the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She has published six books, produced numerous videos, films, radio pieces, and original scores for dance and film. In 2007, she received the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her outstanding contribution to the arts. She lives in New York City.
The distinguished artist-in-residence is an expansion of EMPAC’s extensive project-based residency program, which supports the creation of new works and research. It marks the first time an artist has been invited for an extended time unrelated to a specific project, with the express goal of sharing the artist’s creative practice with a technology-focused campus and the community through lectures, work in progress demonstrations, web documentation, workshops, and more.
Goebel sees a unique opportunity in this collaboration: “With EMPAC, Rensselaer has made an incredible commitment to bridge new technology with new artistic development and to bring together the engineering and scientific world with the experiential and creative approaches of the arts. Laurie Anderson will bring her deeply rooted experience in using technological tools in her artistic work to the campus community.”
Since 2005, EMPAC has provided residencies to more than 100 projects with over 400 participating artists, both established and emerging, creating ambitious experimental, time-based work that crosses artistic disciplines and often intersects with the sciences and humanities. Resident artists benefit from advanced facilities; expert staff in audio, video, IT, and stage technologies; and opportunities for collaboration with Rensselaer’s faculty and researchers.
Past resident artists have included the Wooster Group, Chris Doyle, Brent Green, Graham Parker, Ensemble Signal, Nora Chipaumire, Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, The OpenEnded Group, Sean Griffin, International Contemporary Ensemble, Anti VJ, Jennifer Tipton, and MaryAnne Amacher; among others.