In 2017, the TIMARA Studios underwent a full renovation, with one of the new spaces being the TIMARA Performance Technology Lab (PTL), which was formerly known as the TIMARA Gallery. Since then, the PTL has been home to a variety of exciting projects, from the department’s rendition of David Tudor’s Rainforest IV, to student installations and recitals. However, soon after the renovation, it became apparent that the gallery held even more potential. The department began to explore ways to expand the PTL’s technological offerings.
After much discussion and planning, the department decided to install a theatrical grid in the space. This grid would allow for the use of sound, projection, and theatrical lighting in the space. The installation process was a long and collaborative effort, with help from local engineer John Perovsek and his team, who installed the pipe grid and infrastructure and Jaime Benjamin and Eric Stegall from Oberlin’s Theater Department, who helped spec lights and offered significant support throughout the process.
One person who played a particularly integral role in the installation process was Oberlin alum Kiera Saltz, a former CS major and TIMARA studio assistant. Kiera also happens to be an expert lighting designer who worked extensively with the theater department and launched Student Light and Sound Association (SLSA) as a student. Over Winter Term, Kiera took a vacation from her day job as Studio Manager at the Performance Arts Technology Program at the University of Michigan to lend her expertise in designing, installing, and documenting the new setup. Her contributions were invaluable and the department is incredibly grateful for her efforts.
The installation process itself afforded many opportunities for learning and experimentation, as many students helped unpack, hang, wire, focus, and test the lights. Now that the grid is installed, students are eager to use the space and explore the new possibilities it offers. TIMARA senior Gabriel Baskin commented, “The gallery now can get brash and strobey; it reminds me of a dance club. My heart gladens.” TIMARA and art history fifth year Ivy Fu who helped set up the space, shared, “Who would have thought that the meditative act of opening boxes could be so healing among grad school application?”
The department is excited to see what creative ideas and projects the students will come up with using this new technology. The TIMARA Performance Technology Lab is now a hub for innovation and experimentation, and the department is looking forward to the exciting things to come.