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Sonic Arcade

June 18 @ 7:30 pm - 9:15 pm EDT

Join us as we close out the Crafting Change Symposium with an evening of mesmerizing visual and sonic wonderment from current Oberlin College students, alums, and friends, including Maya McCollum, Travis Johns, Paulina Velazquez Solís, Rachel Gibson, Christiana Rose, and the Oberlin Synthesizer Ensemble. Featuring a special guest performance by Chilean artist Constanza Piña Pardo, the Sonic Arcade is not to be missed. Come celebrate the conclusion of a wonderful month together!

Concert Program

FM Piece (2021) – Oberlin Synthesizer Ensemble

Unbalanced, Disintegrating… (2021) – Maya McCollum (b. 2001)

Video Archive of Visual Renderings Produced via Ultraviolet Laser Exposure on Cyanotype Paper by way of Transducer-based Electromechanical Array (2021) – Travis Johns (b. 1983)

fragments of blue dense (2020) – Christiana Rose (b. 1993)

A river off all ages (2021) – Paulina Velázquez Solís (b. 1981)

Music for Toy Instruments (2021) – Rachel Gibson (b. 1998)

Electronic Symbiosis (2021) – Corazón de Robota (b. 1984)

Please refrain from unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this performance.
Thank you.

Program Notes and Biographies

FM Piece by the Oberlin Synthesizer Ensemble

More frequency modulation, more noise, more fun!

The Oberlin Synthesizer Ensemble is a semi-regular student ensemble that is made of students in the TIMARA department at Oberlin Conservatory. The ensemble changes in members and interests change from year to year, but consistently focuses on performing and improvising with the department’s unique collection of largely analog synthesizers collected from the last 50 years. This iteration features Will Bertrand ’21, Autumn Culp* ’24, Jack Hamill ’22, and Drew Smith ’21, and is being coached by Tom Lopez

*not featured in this performance

Unbalanced, Disintegrating… by Maya McCollum

Maya McCollum is a TIMARA and Studio Art major at Oberlin College and Conservatory. She enjoys exploring different avenues for melding her visual and sonic practices in a variety of mediums. In the past, Maya has built electro-acoustic sculptural instruments, made animations reliant on both sonic and visual material, and created sculptures with interactive audio elements. While at Oberlin, She has played in a collection of collaborative free improvisation groups, performing on violin and musical saw. Her sound work is often inspired by a variety of folk music, which she played off and on growing up. She consistently uses her violin in some capacity, and also enjoys working with modular eurorack systems. In both her sound and visual work, she strives to create very organic, visceral, and personal environments.

For this piece, I mined the USDA Forest Service archive, finding documentation from the past hundred years on natural and man made decay in the environment (bark eating beetles, tent caterpillars, fires, pollution etc). I enlarged this documentation into different forms of projected material- a large collage environment and a smaller projected quilt to be worn on my skirt. In this piece, I explore our constant struggle to rebalance the natural world, seeking to fix problems of which we are often a cause. I therefore attempt to synthesize myself into the animated collage environments, both by projecting on my physical form and by meshing the violin sounds, the sounds I am visibly producing, into the sonic space.

Video Archive of Visual Renderings Produced via Ultraviolet Laser Exposure on Cyanotype Paper by way of Transducer-based Electromechanical Array by Travis Johns

Travis Johns is a sound artist residing in Ithaca, NY, whose work includes performance, installation and printmaking, often incorporating eco/bio-based themes and electronic instruments of his own design. Active in the San Francisco Bay Area experimental music scene for several years, Johns moved to Costa Rica in 2011 where he collaborated extensively with visual artist Paulina Velazquez-Solis on Raro, an immersive sound and sculpture installation that represented Costa Rica in the 2013 Biennial of the Central American Isthmus (BAVIC). Since returning to the states, first to Baltimore and later to Ithaca, he’s continued to apply his trade as a composer, educator and sound artist under the nom de plume of VauxFlores.

He holds a B.M. In Technology in Music and Related Arts from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, studies conducted with Tom Lopez, as well as an MFA from Mills College in Electronic Music and Recording Media, studies conducted with Chris Brown, Les Stuck and Hilda Paredes. He has participated in residencies at such places as the Atlantic Center for the Arts and RPI’s Create @ iEar, and has had work featured by el Museo Centroamericano de Arte Video (MUCEVI), the Electronic Music Foundation, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), the Bienarte 8 Costa Rican Biennial, el Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, MAC Panama, The California Academy of Sciences, Alianza Francesa de Guatemala, The Lab (San Francisco), Battery Townsley (Marin County, Ca), el Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo de Costa Rica, and Rhizome DC (Washington DC).

A river off all ages by Paulina Velázquez Solís

Paulina Velázquez Solís (b.México/Costa Rica, 1981). Lives and works in Ithaca, New York. Paulina Velázquez is a visual artist working with diverse media such as installation, sculpture, drawing, animation, and media performance. Working on subjects related to the body and the biological and natural world in interaction with the cultural and social notions of normalcy. She studied Art and Visual Communication in Printmaking at Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica, and obtained an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, in San Francisco, California as a Fulbright Scholar.

Her work has been presented in places like Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, TEOR/éTica and Instituto México in Costa Rica. And she has shown internationally at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan, ExTeresa Arte Actual in México City, Museo de Arte in San Salvador, Torino Contemporanea in Italy, La Casa de las Américas in Havana, Cuba, Museum of the Americas in Washington DC, UCLA Biennial in Los Ángeles, SUNY Gallery in New Paltz, New York, Mission Cultural Center, Root Division, The Lab and the Berkeley Art Museum in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as various film festivals. She is currently faculty in the art department at Ithaca College.

Multifungi is a series of multimedia performances, where manual and raw aesthetics are combined with technology to bring to life open-ended narratives through animation and sound. This audiovisual piece will elaborate on the project “A river of all ages” a new body of work based on my relationship with my current neighbor river, Six Mile Creek, and other rivers I have lived nearby in my home countries of Mexico and Costa Rica – a project founded by 2021 NYSCA / CAP Artists in Community Grant.

Music for Toy Instruments by Rachel Gibson

Rachel Gibson is a percussionist and music technologist from Tower City, Pennsylvania. She is currently attending the University of Virginia to pursue a Ph.D. in Music Composition and Computer Technologies. Rachel studied percussion with Michael Rosen and Bob Nowak and computer music with Aurie Hsu and Abby Aresty. She completed additional computer music studies with Edgar Berdahl and Stephen Beck. While at Oberlin, Rachel performed extensively in various orchestral and contemporary music ensembles, and was the recipient of several music awards. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Percussion Performance and Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA).

Music for Toy Instruments explores sewing and crocheting plush characters as a means for sound-making, storytelling, and world-building. It also seeks to draw parallels between cuteness aesthetics and how these particular visual aesthetics affect what sounds we choose to make. The story: Bao (big pink plush) is new in town, and she is feeling sad because she doesn’t have any friends. Then, she meets the triplets: Yue (purple plush), Burt (yellow plush), and Ki (red plush) and wants to talk to them so she can get to know them better! The performer must “play” with the plushies in order to cheer Bao up!

fragments of blue dense by Christiana Rose

fragments of blue dense is a kaleidoscope of materials and memories from my experience of being diagnosed and treated for a congenital heart disease. The piece also draws inspiration from Maggie Nelson’s lyric essay, “Bluets,” and aims to explore the strangeness of being while finding a way through the tough times and healing process. “fragments of blue dense” is one movement from a larger modular work that highlights the interdisciplinary nature of my work and utilizes both fixed media elements and live electronics controlled through muscle, position, and motion sensors not visible to the audience.

Electronic Symbiosis by Corazón de Robota

Corazón de Robota [CL] // makes retro-technological and techno-manual noise creations from low-cost low-tech sound artifacts & electronic recycling. Her sound performance stages synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, filters and handmade distortions, incorporating error and electronic aberration.

Device arrangement is not fixed. She uses her DIY instruments as non-standard modules that are interconnected by cables. Signals and sound are therefore always unique, a chaotic organization of textures, feedbacks and random patterns that are set up live to explore and experiment with the rhythmic dimensions of noise.

The various sonorities generated go through the spectrum of audible and inaudible frequencies, leading us into a sensory journey of physical perceptions, vibrations, frequencies and demodulation of cosmic messages.

Corazón de Robota’s DIY devices embody the philosophy of Electronic Anarchy and are all made using open source hardware.


June 18
7:30 pm - 9:15 pm EDT
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Maya McCollum
Paulina Velázquez Solís
Travis Johns
Christiana Rose
Constanza Piña
Oberlin Synthesizer Ensemble
Rachel Gibson