Schenectady County

‘Light sculpture’ sets RPI’s new arts building aglow

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has launched its “Light Above Hudson” art exhibit, which features a
The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, has been transformed into an artistic sculpture as colorful lights and designs are projected around the building’s exterior Friday, January 11, 2008.  ADV
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, has been transformed into an artistic sculpture as colorful lights and designs are projected around the building’s exterior Friday, January 11, 2008. ADV

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has launched its “Light Above Hudson” art exhibit, which features a “light sculpture” illuminating the college’s new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center.

RPI spokeswoman Amber Cleveland said the light sculpture, which had its opening reception Friday, is part of a 10-month countdown to the opening of the center in October.

“You’ll be able to see the building from far away. So it’s a good way for the community to get excited about EMPAC as well,” Cleveland said.

Award-winning light designer Jennifer Tipton designed the light sculpture. According to RPI officials, Tipton won two Tony awards for her work with Broadway theater productions and a Laurence Olivier Award for work in the field of dance, including lighting for Mikhail Baryshnikov’s “The Nutcracker.”

Tipton’s “Light Above Hudson” will feature flexible light-emitting diodes and automated spotlights to illustrate the marriage of RPI’s high-tech tradition and the performing arts, EMPAC senior communication specialist John Rodat said. “What people will see there is a high-degree of technical sophistication, but it’s not off-putting and designed to appeal to very human senses,” Rodat said.

EMPAC is one part of $600 million in campus construction completed since RPI embarked on the Rensselaer Plan to expand and improve the college in 2000. EMPAC is a 220,000-square-foot building containing a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, two studio areas of 3,500-square feet and 2,500 square feet respectively, suites for artists-in-residence, rehearsal space, professional recording, editing and post-production facilities and digital broadcasting facilities.

The EMPAC building is positioned on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. As such, it is best visible from the west, down the hill in Troy and Green Island. A map of ideal “lookout points” in the area can be downloaded at www.empac.rpi.edu.

“Light Above Hudson” will be visible from dusk until 10 p.m. every night until Feb. 3.

“The lights will be changing colors and shapes. It won’t be just the building is lit up blue. It will be animated,” Cleveland said.

“EMPAC was conceived as part of the Rensselaer plan to create well-rounded scholars and expose them to the arts and humanities. It’s really merging the arts and technology, creating a nexus [that] pushes the boundaries of research and research that pushes the boundaries of art.”

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