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Granular Synthesis presents Lux

Renowned avant-garde media-art duo Granular Synthesis will make their way to West Hall on Wednesday for the North American premiere of their multisensory art installation Lux. This marks the first collaboration with iEAR Presents!, an ongoing series offering a forum for pioneering and emerging electronic-media artists, and EMPAC, RPI’s new Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center—which is both a yet-to-be-completed building and a fully focused mission.

EMPAC’s program stems from what those involved intend the building to be—state-of-the-art facilities for use by world-renowned and emerging artists and researchers, “in fields such as visualization and movement capture; sending new artworks onto the global stage.” RPI never claimed they’d settle for being well-known in only the sciences, after all, and their undergraduate EMAC program and graduate iEAR program are prime examples of what will continue to lead creative and cutting-edge artists (and audiences) to this section of the Hudson Valley.

Granular Synthesis, an Austrian video- and sound-artist collaborative, take their name from the computer-assisted means of organizing very short pieces of digitally recorded sound—granules—into larger patterns. The Vienna-based duo, Kurt Hentschlager and Ulf Langheinrich, have been working together since ’91, with an interesting desired outcome: “Our idea was to attack an audience, rather than please it,” Hentschlager has said—although he has admitted that they have provided positive entertainment against their intentions.

On Wednesday, Hentschlager will be at West Hall to discuss their installation Lux, which features video (providing the only light source for the dark-enveloped audience) and accompanying audio, which is in synch with the visuals. “Any motion, change or reorganization of the visual and sonic formations function as a unified field, and modulations of the video in light and color cause equal modulations in the sound.”

The event takes place on Wednesday (Nov. 19) at West Hall (RPI Campus, Troy) at 8 PM. Admission is $5, $3 students. Call 276-4829 or visit for further information.

Tellebration! 2003

In the age of the e-mail, the MP3 and the video download, paranoid proclamations about the death of face-to-face interaction are understandable. They’re also premature. As dramatic illustration of this fact, the Story Circle of the Capital Region will take part in a worldwide celebration of traditional oral culture on Saturday (Nov. 15) at the Egg. Tellebration! 2003 will be staged around the globe that weekend, in 16 countries and 41 states; here in Albany, 10 storytellers—whose stories range in style from humorous to hoary—will regale listeners with all manner of real-life, real-time, reach-right-out-and-touch-’em tales.

Over the last seven years, the local staging of Tellebration! has attracted increasing numbers of story-hungry folks (organizers of the event estimate that recent crowds have numbered between 300 and 400). And coproducer Kate Dudding has pointed out that such numbers enable a thriving year-round trade in storytelling. In a press release, she notes that “the proceeds from the concerts have enabled us to underwrite 35 storytelling programs at libraries throughout the Greater Capital Region.”

This year’s Tellebration! boasts Dudding as a performer as well as an organizer; joining her will be Kent Busman, Fran Combs, coproducer Joe Doolittle, Lois Foight Hodges, Nancy Marie Payne, Frank Wind, Amy Spaulding, Carol Connolly and Kathy Gill. All, by the way, are area residents. Heartening evidence that in the Capital Region people are still more than happy to look you right in the face and tell you a whopper.

The Tellebration! 2003 will take place on Saturday (Nov. 15), at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets for the 7:30 PM show are $12 advance, $15 door. For tickets or more information, 473-1845.

Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited

Mapfumo means “spears,” and Thomas’ socially charged music truly lives up to that handle. A Zimbabwean who came of age in the country’s revolution, Mapfumo has used music as a vehicle for activism and protest. Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited have been playing together since 1980, and their massive all-night concerts are legendary in Zimbabwe. Their innovative brand of Afropop combines elements of African jazz and R&B with dance grooves and traditional elements including several mbrias (a finger piano made of a gourd with metal keys used for spirituals.)

His songs confront serious problems including AIDS, corrupt leaders, and the problems of waning cultural identity. The Mugabe government viewed him as such a threat that Mapfumo had liven in exile in Eugene, Ore., since 2000. In spite of this, he returns to Zimbabwe to play in the face of arrest, and continues to record critical and potent songs for his people. Mapfumo’s rare local appearance on Monday is a also a benefit for WRPI.

Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited will play Revolution Hall (421-425 River St., Troy) on Monday (Nov. 17) at 8 PM. For more information, call the club at 273-2337.

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