The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | Troy, NY
Master Electrician / Lighting Supervisor
January 2013 - September 2016

EMPAC Website

Ben Frost Performance

Shahzad Ismaily - Special Guest
Gregory Fox - Special Guest

Argeo Ascani - EMPAC Curator, Music
Ian Hamelin - Project Coordinator
Daniel A Swalec - Lighting Director

February 7, 2013 | EMPAC Goodman Studio 1

Ben Frost’s music is not just heard; it’s felt. Influenced by classical minimalism as well as punk rock and metal, he creates monolithic sounds that command attention through their visceral intensity. Keenly aware of listeners’ thresholds, Frost exploits every extreme of pitch and volume as he pushes the sound of electric guitars, drums, and laptops out from a wall of speakers and amps. As the music unfolds, overlapping layers and elongated structural forms emerge from within the encompassing sonic space.

text and logo from EMPAC website | photo by Daniel A. Swalec


photos by Daniel A Swalec and Kevin (Yiming) Chen [courtesy of EMPAC].

Technical Project Notes:

This was my first real opportunity to light an event at EMPAC and I was very fortunate to work with the artists to come up with a visual atmosphere that allowed their audience to experience the music without overpowering them with any added visuals. By utilizing EMPAC’s color-blaze 72” LED fixtures to back-light the GFRG acoustic tiles that surrounded the space, I was able to create a negative mosaic, throwing the venue into a deep blue. Further performance lighting was provided by three 500w Selecon RAMA fresnels on stands, 1 as a high-side / back light for each of the three performers. These tungsten fixtures as well as five Source Four PAR MFL fixtures on floor plates were left warm to provide a contrast with the US blue wall. A steep back light (with a full CTB gel) from the venue’s tension grid provided some separation between the performer and the ‘backdrop’. The atmosphere of the room was further adapted by replacing the venue’s houselights with an array of Source Four Zoom Fixtures with break-up templates and CTB gel to help connect the artists to their audience.


Some work from my time at EMPAC

Returning to EMPAC after his 2013 multi-venue installation and performance, British artist Mark Fell presents Recursive Frame Analysis , a new work for light, sound, and human movement.
A rare US performance by Mouse on Mars, one of the most influential and innovative duos in German electronic music.
Rosa Barba’s two-part EMPAC commission was produced in collaboration with Rensselaer’s Hirsch Observatory, and was presented on four consecutive Saturday evenings throughout March 2015.
On the final evening of Cally Spooner’s EMPAC production residency, in which she will be shooting her new film work And You Were Wonderful, On Stage in Studio 1, the artist invites you to be part of a live studio audience
Almost every object struck, plucked, or blown in Memory Palace, a 22-minute work for amplified percussion and electronics, has to be made by the percussionist.
The Mivos Quartet, one of the most sought-after string quartets in the international new music scene, will be in residence at EMPAC to develop and perform a new work by American composer Eric Wubbels.
Mick Barr presents a solo performance of his electric guitar works.
Already among the most well-known musicians of their generations, Mariel Roberts (cello) and Nate Wooley (trumpet) have quickly developed international reputations for their dedication to the advancement of music.
Mark Fell is a multidisciplinary artist based in Sheffield (UK). He is widely known for combining popular music styles such as electronica and techno with more computer-based compositions, with a particular emphasis on algorithmic and mathematical systems
Ben Frost’s music is not just heard; it’s felt

Information on more of my previous work can be found below

Since its inception in the mid 1990’s, Disney’s Broadway musical, The Lion King, has recurred throughout my life. I grew up fascinated with puppets and when Julie Taymor’s production hit theatres during my high-school days, I was enthralled.
The beautiful, historic Geary Theater — rising from the rubble of the catastrophic earthquake and fires of 1906 and immediately hailed as the “perfect playhouse” — was A.C.T's home since the beginning. This 1040 seat theatre would be a source of countless projects during the time I spent in the San Francisco Bay area.

Thoughts, Ideas, or Suggestions?