Professor of New Media and Music
- A.R.C.T., Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto
- M.A. University of California Berkeley
- B.A. University of Toronto
Michael Century, pianist and composer, is Professor of New Media and Music in the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which he joined in 2002. Musically at home in classical, contemporary, and improvisational settings, Century has enjoyed a varied career as university teacher, new media researcher, inter-arts producer, and arts policy maker. He studied piano with Reginald Godden in Toronto, and theory/composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Most recently, his musical passion is playing the accordion.
“Though my creative work is both musical and scholarly, I like to think of the two as intertwined through a common question: ‘whither creativity in age of smart machines?’” Century said. “I perform a wide repertoire of solo and chamber music from the classical and contemporary traditions, always keeping in mind the need to constantly re-establish the contemporary relevance of these traditions in an age of digital media.”
Century is the founding director of The Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble, which performs works largely from the 20th and 21st centuries, and engages with emerging technologies.
His compositional projects deal with the musical –as opposed to the merely technical –challenges of musical-computer interaction, and he states that “the deeply embodied traditions of performance and craft must be maintained even as we confront the sophisticated and ever growing capacities of programmable machines.”
His commitment to humanizing technologies in the performing arts is the central theme of his scholarly writing on 20th and 21st century art and technology, which spans studies of collaborations, open-source/free software communities, and his current research on the temporality of media art - an ongoing project on the “times of new media.”
His recently completed work includes an iPad app on the Goldberg Variations, “Extraordinary Freedom Machines: Vignettes in the History of a Multimedia Century,” a three part lecture series on 20th century art and technology at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Art Center; a forthcoming chapter in The Emergence of Video Processing Tools titled “Virtuosity as Creative Freedom”; and “Encoding Motion in the Early Computer: Knowledge Transfers Between Studio and Lab”, in Place Studies in Art, Media, Science and Technology: Historical Investigations on the Sites and the Migration of Knowledge.