Landscapes & Machinescapes, Goodbye Troy NY!

I didn't think it was possible but...there is a chance this is my final broadcast about EMPAC/Troy, NY folks! I know, I know, you are probably sick of me gushing over this incredible science and art mecca (click this!! It explains part of my obsession with this space!!!) that sits on a mountainside in upstate New York but a town that boasts Laurie Anderson as a long term artist in residence while also being home to the delicious old school neon hub that is Snowman Ice Cream is some sort of dream that I often find myself waking from!

My potential last trip up here was, as usual, packed with tons of awe...beginning with the thesis show of the artist Sena Clara Creston! Her final project, titled Machinescapes, reworked discarded technology (such as old pop out dvd drives and vcr motors) to create a small mechanical landscape of trees popping up and down, waves jerkily crashing and a lightbulb sun precariously rising and falling in the background! The piece (partly pictured here), whose fragility and mechanical clatter put you on edge while also making you get lost in the sweet glow of Christmas lights and movement, was a DIY wonderland! I really hope Sena goes on to make more work and expand her already intriguing analogue dream of a portfolio! (pssst, Sena, if you ever read this I am so pro you making music box work!!! Have you seen this? You can totally make these from scratch!)

Following this, Brent & I traveled to the home of Ryan Jenkins, a friend and EMPAC employee who supersedes these labels and most others! A founder of the Troy Bike Rescue, my welding mentor, our sometimes fabricator and an all around awesome fella Ryan, Nora and their dog Gunni's home (pictured below!) is such an expression of who they are and the ethos they live by: homemade stacked garden beds, wood and axe at hand for firewood, every hand picked and made detail of their home tucked into the quiet back streets of the strange juxtaposition that is this town, also tucked next to a gun club! Which, thankfully, isn't open all too often! Thanks for a beautiful time in your beautiful home guys!

Next on the agenda was brunching with the brilliance of Kathy High! An artist and RPI professor, Kathy makes political and scientific work that is so dense each project is an opus! Her piece that sticks with me most is the aptly titled Blood Wars the core of which revolves around pitting blood samples against eachother, watching the white cells fighting it out until only one is left and then sending the victor onto a new battle of blood. As this "game" is played some details of the persons blood are posted creating a rounded database on our understanding of our blood's properties, it's relation to our lives and exploring our everchanging notions of immunity & safety-- and this is just the tip of the brilliant Kathy iceburg! Kathy also clued me into The Sanctuary for Independent Media, which I didn't know a thing about despite my constant time in Troy!

The Sanctuary, which if I ever return I promise check out, seems to be a refuge for media arts hidden in an old church in downtown Troy. Workshops, concerts and all kinds of events to teach and foster creativity, culture and community through media seems to be what goes on here...most recently even hosting a traveling Flaherty Film Seminar just last week, complete with a screening and a pot luck!!! This is my kind of place! Donate your time! Or your money! Or even your old tech equipment to this amazing, forward thinking org!

We still need to mix some of the sound and video from our recording up at EMPAC so there is a slight chance I will return to this magical land of farmers markets, independent media and experimental arts/sciences but, for now, I wave goodbye to a great run in a great place filled with the most incredible people! And I hope that the bridge being built between those up the mountain and those down below it in this slightly conflicting region (see note above about gun club next to kids playing) continues to strengthen!



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.