Envisioning Electroinclusivity

September 30, 2019

Erich Burnett

TIMARA faculty and staff Eli Stine, Abby Aresty, Tom Lopez, Aurie Hsu, and Peter Swendsen
TIMARA faculty and staff Eli Stine, Abby Aresty, Tom Lopez, Aurie Hsu, and Peter Swendsen (from left) are gearing up for a big year.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

TIMARA begins a yearlong celebration with the Crafting Sound Symposium Oct. 4-5.

Oberlin’s ties to computer music extend to the late 1960s and to groundbreaking faculty composer Olly Wilson, who established a forward-looking curriculum that far surpassed the sounds emanating from most other college campuses of the era.

In 1969, the first courses that would eventually become TIMARA—shorthand for Technology in Music and Related Arts—were offered at Oberlin. Twenty years later, TIMARA conferred its first degree.

Now 50 years after those initial courses, TIMARA is celebrating its milestone anniversary with a series of events taking place throughout the 2019-20 academic year and involving many TIMARA devotees, from faculty to alumni to current students.

The festivities begin October 4 and 5 with the Crafting Sound Symposium, coordinated by TIMARA Technical Director and Lecturer Abby Aresty. The celebration continues with events in November and March of 2020.

The Crafting Sound Symposium is intended to cast a critical eye toward the technologies of sound, including an examination of value systems that tend to accompany these technologies and exploration of various alternatives to traditional sound technology and the ways they might engage new audiences.

Numerous events on Friday and Saturday culminate in a concert on Saturday evening in the Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space, in the lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin (10 E. College St.).

“The maker movement in general has been criticized over time for emphasizing particular kinds of makers over another…a sort of male nerd culture,” says Aresty, who is teaching a fall course called Reimagining Maker Culture(s): from Fabrication to Curation. The class is part of Oberlin’s StudiOC Learning Community, which offers innovative curricular study opportunities that unite disciplines from across the college and conservatory.

“A lot of researchers over time have tried to bring electronics to existing communities of crafters. The question is, if you use these other types of technologies, do you have a broader reach by making electronics more about craft and less about abstract principles? It’s an interesting space to explore.”

Aresty was joined in coordinating the symposium by Kyle Hartzell, an educational technologist and digital media engineer who works in Oberlin’s Cinema Studies Department and the Center for Information Technology.

The weekend opens with Sonic Super-Buffet, a celebration of interactive exhibits, instruments, and installations by TIMARA faculty, students, and other local artists. It happens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 4, in the Birenbaum.

“The idea is to give a little bit of a preview of the technologies people will be using in their concert on Saturday as well as some projects you won’t see on Saturday,” says Aresty. “It’s a very hands-on event. You can try things out and make sounds yourself.”

Saturday, October 5, offers a full day of activities. The complete schedule is as follows:


(An RSVP is required for both workshops; scan the QR code at right for details.) 


Robotic Percussion Workshop
10 a.m. | TIMARA Makerspace & Gallery
Artist Jimmy Kuehnle use Arduino microcontrollers, simple code, common objects, and lots of hot glue to rig up basic servomotor robotic drum machines that lay the foundation for more complex future explorations and advancement.

Paper Circuits for Audio Workshop
1 p.m. | TIMARA Makerspace & Gallery
Sound artist Jess Rowland explores how to design and build flexible, flat, embedded circuitry for paper speakers and other non-traditional sound-making surfaces.

Miscellaneous Electronic Bits
4 p.m. | Black Box Theatre (above Apollo Theatre)
This panel discussion focuses on various guest artists’ creative uses of technology, with emphasis on gendered and sociopolitical dynamics related to these technologies. Asha Tamirisa '10, Jess Rowland, Afroditi Psarra, and Jimmy Kuehnle will take part.

Crafting Sound Concert
7:30 p.m. | The Birenbaum
The symposium concludes with a concert featuring works by Asha Tamirisa, Afroditi Psarra, and Jess Rowland, as well as various student artists.

“The whole weekend is intended for anyone who’s interested in technology in general and craft arts. It’s going to be really wonky—it’s very TIMARA-esque,” Aresty says with a smile. “I think there’s going to be something for everyone. If folks aren’t sure, they can always come Friday night and check out some things. If you like what you see, then you can experience a lot more on Saturday!”

The 50th anniversary celebration continues with the Kaleidosonic Music Festival, created by TIMARA associate professor Tom Lopez ’89 and scheduled for Saturday, November 16. Spring semester includes Exquisite Electrophonics on Saturday, March 7, and Sound in the Round on Sunday, March 8.

Visit the TIMARA website for additional details.

The Crafting Sound Symposium is supported by the Center for Convergence (StudiOC) at Oberlin College and by the Office of Alumni Relations.

You may also like…

Semester Ends with a Packed Performance Calendar

December 8, 2023

Oberlin Conservatory’s student and faculty performers have been filling most concert venues throughout the campus over the last week. During these final five bustling days before students head into reading period and then exams, this explosion of activity feels something akin to the thrilling finale of a fireworks display on New Year's Eve. So, join in—even from a distance. All of these concerts are free and open to the public, and all but one of them can be streamed live at concert time at oberlin.edu/livestream.
Musical Union with Oberlin Orchestra

Time Traveling with Jeremy Denk

November 13, 2023

The pianist and Oberlin alum is touring the country with an era-spanning program featuring women composers. He returns to Finney Chapel for the Artist Recital Series on November 30.
Black and white photo of man sitting arms resting on a piano.