Possible Futures Made Tangible: TIMARA takes NYC

This winter term, some fellow TIMARA students and I got a glimpse of where we might be 2, 10, or 30 years from now. Aurie Hsu expertly curated a collection of experiences in New York City that expanded our ideas of what is possible as a professional in the music technology world, immersed us in a world full of innovative artwork and performance, and gave us tangible real-world examples of how we could put our TIMARA chops to use in fulfilling ways.

We toured WNYC and spoke to Jad Abumrad (of Radiolab), Alex Overington, and Isaac Jones – all Oberlin Conservatory alumni – who demonstrated how they put their creative and technical skills to use every day in the world of podcasting. I loved hearing about the sonic techniques they use to convey narrative or to accent a feeling or phrase. We learned about opportunities for artistic and professional growth through the residency and internship programs at Harvestworks and NY Arts. We absorbed wisdom from Chico MacMurtie, tinkerer and creator of the Robotic Church in Brooklyn, while touring his workshop and watching him demonstrate his creations. I was in awe of the mechanics of everything, and astonished at how he manages to make the most amazing things out of rather simple materials. Seth Cluett showed us around the Computer Music Center at Columbia, and gave us a tour of an exhibit he curated at the New York Public Library, “Sounding Circuits: Audible Histories”. I was incredibly moved, being surrounded by artifacts and inventions of some of the coolest pioneers of experimental electroacoustic music. In those moments I felt the close presence of our artistic predecessors, and felt profoundly humbled by the giants whose shoulders we stand on.

The most invigorating part of the trip was our performance at Shapeshifter Lab. We were incredibly lucky to have a supportive audience made up of friends, alumni, strangers, and several people we had visited on our tour! At first I was immensely nervous to perform in front of such accomplished people. However, seeing the courage and artistic excellence displayed by my friends during their pieces gave me the strength to perform well.

The future is scary! It’s often daunting to think about how we’re going to succeed after life at Oberlin. Yet, after the concert on the train ride back to Manhattan as we emerged from the tunnel, I saw the night time skyline out the window framing the faces of my incredibly talented friends, and I knew, after everything we’d done that week, that everything was going to be alright.

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