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* Sundance Film Festival  To Feature Two EMPAC Commissions

Sundance Film Festival To Feature Two EMPAC Commissions

Abacus image courtesy of Laris Jan

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Sundance Film Festival To Feature Two EMPAC Commissions

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
(EMPAC) has announced that two recent commissions have made their way into the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier category. Early Morning Opera’s ABACUS and Brent Green’s To Many Men Strange Fates Are Given, both commissioned by time-based arts curator Kathleen Forde, are to be featured in the annual January event.

The works are part of the DANCE MOViES Commission, a program launched by EMPAC to support the creation of new works in which dance meets the technologies of the moving image. Established in 2007, it is the first major commissioning program for dance film in the United States. It has already had a significant national and international impact, with the creation of 17 new works to date, many of which are winning awards and touring extensively.

“We are thrilled to have not one but two EMPAC commissions at the Sundance Film Festival this year,” said Forde. “New Frontiers at Sundance is one of the most important and adventurous platforms in the field. This opportunity is incredibly well deserved by Brent Green and Lars Jan, and showcases Rensselaer’s commitment to the production of experimental media and the arts.”

ABACUS, a large-scale multimedia presentation by Early Morning Opera under the direction of Lars Jan, features Paul Abacus and his re-imagining of Buckminster Fuller’s Geoscope as a data cathedral for the masses. This Geoscope expands on Fuller’s dream of a data visualization device that would comprehensively model the Earth’s “vital statistics,” historic patterns, and future projections. Aided by this device and a chorus of Steadicam operators, ABACUS “argues the obsolescence of national borders and proposes their dissolution while simultaneously acting as a study in two dominant forms of persuasive discourse today: the TED-style (slide-based) presentation and megachurch media design.”

ABACUS premiered in October 2010 at EMPAC at the inaugural Filament festival.
Brent Green’s new installation, To Many Men Strange Fates Are Given, incorporates familiar elements from past work by this self-taught artist, filmmaker, and performer: hand-drawn, “rickety” animation; wry, off-kilter storytelling; original music played by his band; and rustic sculptural elements — but also marks an evolution in subject matter and technique.

“New Frontiers at Sundance is one of the most important and adventurous platforms in the field. This opportunity showcases Rensselaer’s commitment to the production of experimental media and the arts.”—Kathleen Forde

With a welded metal frame that houses wooden phonograph horns among other things, the installation feels partly salvaged from America’s rural and industrial past — a landscape familiar from Green’s previous animated films — but also includes LCD screens, mounted as windowpanes and “hacked” to simulate the effect of the multiplane animation, the technique that created the rich depth of classic Disney films, according to Forde.

The Sundance presentation will be the installation’s premiere; it will subsequently tour, with a stop at EMPAC in the fall of 2012.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 19, December 9, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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