Professor Miya Masaoka Receives 2020 EMPAC Commission and Residency

BY Brittany Nguyen, October 26, 2020

Associate Professor Miya Masaoka, Director of the Sound Art MFA program, has been awarded a prestigious new Music Commission and residency from EMPAC, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 


“Masaoka will create an hour-long work for solo artist (Masaoka herself) for solo performer and electronics,” as stated on EMPAC’s website. Curated by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, this currently untitled commission will premiere in 2021. 


“EMPAC is dedicated to the in-depth support of artists through the commissioning, residencies, production, and presentation of ambitious performances and artworks across music, time-based visual art, theater and dance. Our polyvocal curatorial approach resonates through each project, generating time-based works that are diverse in content, method, technology, and audience experience. These projects utilize not only EMPAC’s technological infrastructure, but also the interdisciplinary expertise of its curatorial, production, and administrative staff. While EMPAC is currently closed to the public, the center continues to support artists with a full program of commissions, residencies, and related project support across disciplines.” 

Masaoka, born in Washington, is an American artist, composer, and performer. Her works encompass not only notated composition and hybrid acoustic/electronic performance and improvisation on Japanese traditional string instruments such as the koto and ichigenkin, but also instrument building, wearable computing, and sonifying the behavior of plants, brain activity, and insect movement. She explores sound, gesture, speed, temporality and often her work is imbued with gender, race and social implications.


Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Venice Biennale, Park Avenue Armory, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, and many others. She was a Fulbright Fellow to Japan in 2016, and has been the recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, the Alpert Award in the Arts, Gerbode Foundation Special Award in the Arts, the MAP Fund, and others. Masaoka has taught composition at New York University and in the Music/Sound program at the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College since 2002, and is currently the director of the Sound Art MFA program at Columbia University. In 2017, her installation “Vaginated Chairs” was shown as the Kunstmuseum Bonn, and in 2018 she will premiere a work for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.