Troy, NY — In 2016, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute completed construction on a 496-speaker “wave field synthesis” audio array, one of the most extensive and precise systems of its kind in the world. On February 16, 17, and 18, EMPAC music curator Argeo Ascani and audio engineers Todd Vos and Jeff Svatek will present a series of demonstrations introducing audiences to this new immersive sound technology.
Introduction to Wave Field Synthesis will be offered in four sessions between Thursday and Saturday, with attendance limited to 15 participants at each event. Please reserve your ticket in advance.
Wave field synthesis is a spatial audio rendering technique that places virtual sound sources in real space, creating a precise three-dimensional sound field that may be physically explored by the listener. This is accomplished by placing a very large number of very small speakers very close together. EMPAC’s new system is novel in that it can reach into a much higher frequency range than other such systems—the band of human hearing that is most sensitive to sound placement in space. EMPAC’s system is also unique in that it is modular in construction, allowing composers, musicians, and aficionados different geometric configurations for the wave field.
Currently, only a handful of such systems exist across the globe, making wave field synthesis an emerging platform for performers of multichannel electronic music. Since its construction, EMPAC’s array has traveled to the AKOUSMA Festival in Montreal for a week of workshops with some of the world’s leading electronic composers, including Hans Tutschku of Harvard. In the coming months and years, the system will be the focal point of a number of EMPAC production residencies meant to generate original work for this extensively multichannel platform.
This workshop will introduce listeners, musicians, and composers to the basic concept of wave field synthesis by demonstrating the system’s capabilities. Ascani, Vos, and Svatek will walk the audience through various acoustic effects, shedding light on the potential wave field holds when compared to traditional audio systems. The presenters will also introduce the basic approach to composing for the system.
During summer 2017, EMPAC will follow up on these introductory seminars by offering a week of intensive workshops, allowing composers a hands-on opportunity to program for the array. More info on these workshops will be announced at empac.rpi.edu.
The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities and technologies, and by breathing the same air. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to produce and present new work in a building designed with sophisticated architectural and technical infrastructure. Four exceptional venues and studios enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between ourselves, technology, and the worlds we create around us. EMPAC is an icon of the New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for cross-disciplinary research and learning at Rensselaer, the nation’s oldest technological research university.