Abstract- What are “Centers for Media Art” Good For If You Can Buy a “Media System” for the Price of a Used Car? Or: ZKM and EMPAC as Institutions with Physical Spaces for Artistic Productions with Digital Tools

Germany was the last of the highly industrialized country, in which digital tools as an option in artistic fields were embraced by institutions. The change from mainframes to PCs and from open systems to commercially available packages for media production took place before the ZKM Karlsruhe was founded. Established as foundation in 1989, ZKM can be studied as paradigmatic under many aspects: -ZKM is not part of a university, but free-standing – ZKM integrates museums, institutes for artistic production and research, performance spaces, and archival programs for media art under one roof – ”image” and “music” were given equal weight in production and research – artistic criteria and approaches came always first. – The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY, is a new platform for research, digital technology and time-based arts: – EMPAC is part of a university, while positioned like a research center alongside the university’s schools – EMPAC will provide prime spaces designed for the optimal balance between the potential of human physicality, senses and experience and the potential of digital “virtuality” – artistic work may extend from inception of a work until completion – EMPAC is to ignite cultural change within a technological and research university.