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Indepth Arts News:

"Archival Investigations: Early Electro-mechanical Sound Works and Artifacts from Trimpin’s First Five Years in Seattle"
2006-01-06 until 2006-02-24
Jack Straw Foundation and New Media Gallery
Seattle, WA, USA United States of America

Archival Explorations, presented at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery as part of a year-long, multi-venue celebration of composer/sound artist/engineer Trimpin’s 25 years in Seattle, offers a fascinating glimpse into the work of this renowned artist soon after his arrival in Seattle at the dawn of the digital revolution. Trimpin moved to Seattle from his native Germany in 1979 to gain easier access to the electro-mechanical gadgetry necessary to realize the elaborate installations he was envisioning. He became quickly acquainted with the region’s various storehouses of space-age techno junk, appropriating and subverting all manner of cast-off technology for his own creative purposes. Since then he has earned a world-wide reputation as a sound artist and received a “genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation.

Surveying these early contraptions and assemblages – playful jumbles of cannibalized analog circuitry, toys, household objects, and motors – Archival Investigations reveals that Trimpin was already thinking digitally, making brilliant (mis)use of the “primitive” materials available to him before personal computers and MIDI technology were commonplace. We also see the humor, ingenuity, and craftsmanship that have become signatures of his more recent large-scale installations, such as those recently exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery (Phffft) and Consolidated Works (Sheng High), as well as permanent works at SeaTac Airport and Experience Music Project.

Trimpin (b. 1951 in Istein, Germany) is a Seattle-based sculptor, musician, and composer, most of whose pieces integrate both sculpture and music in some way, and many of which make use of computers to play these instruments. Growing up near the French and Swiss borders, Trimpin (who uses only his last name) moved to the US in 1980 because he needed access to old, used technological components, which were difficult to find in Europe; hearing that Seattle was a nice place, he settled there. Trimpin has invented machines to play every instrument of the orchestra via MIDI commands. Although his music is computer-driven, Trimpin almost never uses electronic sounds—not because he objects to them on principle, but because he thinks that loudspeaker design, basically unchanged for 100 years, has lagged behind the rest of electronic music technology.

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