he Machine Starts was a new media performance under leadership of Michael Oatman and myself, professors in the School of Architecture and the Department of Arts respectively. The performance was a collaboration between the visiting artists Mary Ellen Strom and Joanna Haigood and the students of Lawson and Oatman. The Machine Starts featured the a capella singing group, The Rusty Pipes, the RPI Parkour Club, and Center Stage (a spoken word group), as well as interactive media, new music and structures designed to transform RPI’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).
The performance was based on E.M. Forster’s 1909 sci-fi novella The Machine Stops, an eerily prescient tale that predicts the Internet, television, global environmental ruin, social isolation and the impact of technology on the human experience.
The Machine Starts was the third in a series of three Production Installation Performance (PIP) combined Arts & Architecture courses funded by the Chris ‘49 and Marcia Jaffe Foundation. The Machine Starts was performed for three consecutive nights at EMPAC.