I don’t know how to describe Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Empac, except as a Giant Media Toy. The New York Times article had many more eloquent words to describe the 220,000 square foot center, which not only serves as a performing arts space, but is also where a bunch of researchers hope to create a Star Trek-like holodeck, and train doctors to perform surgery using virtual models that they can see AND touch.
This project brings up a host of questions: How do science research institutions contribute to the production of art? How do artists drive scientific inquiry? Are big-scale virtual experiences still as relevant now that we have so many small-scale virtual experiences in our own homes (Nintendo Wii, iPod tours, etc)? What stories would you want to tell using a giant 3D theater that simply can’t be told on a regular old screen?