Image of Trimpin during his four day workshop in the Black Box Experimental StudioWhen instruments are re-purposed in such ways that their sounds aren’t reproducible by human hands, you experience the work of Trimpin. A kinetic sculptor and creator of impossible musical soundscapes, Trimpin works with microtonal and electronically-enhanced instrumentation. While some of his pieces are hair-raising, others melodic, all are somehow ethereal and ephemeral. Refusing to have his works professionally recorded, Trimpin instead focuses on installations that are built and then usually dismantled in a short space of time.

The kinetic sculptor came to the Black Box Theater at ATLAS the week of November 13 to lead a four-day workshop with ATLAS students and faculty. The collaboration culminated in a Black Box Studio performance for the public. The director of the Center for Media, Arts and Performance, Michael Theodore, called Trimpin an absolutely world-class artist, and entirely unique in both his technical knowledge and open source approach. Trimpin is focused on music, not who creates it, says Theodore. This is one reason Jiffer Harriman is so drawn to Trimpin. A CU-Boulder student and creator of another electronically-controlled acoustic ensemble called Solid Noise, Harriman says “Trimpin wants to share as much as he can.”

For Harriman, the experience was extremely rewarding and inspirational. Some of his Solid Noise work was incorporated into the final performance, and he learned a lot through the experience of working with Trimpin to make the show come together. Seeing the audience so engaged was fantastic, says Harriman. They were genuinely interested and intrigued, and asked lots of questions.

Most inspirational of all, Trimpin showed the ATLAS and CU-Boulder their potential. As Theodore puts it, “Not only did the participating students and faculty get a close-up look at the working methods of a brilliant artist, but he also showed us how much we can do ourselves. Trimpin was very impressed with our community of students and our facilities, and is eager to return for an even larger project in the future.”

The video below currently lacks closed captions. If you need closed captions, please check back soon. We’ll definitely take care of this by Oct 7, 2017, probably much sooner. We apologize for the delay.

University of Michigan STAMPS School of Art and Design capture part of a Trimpin installation.

Written by Grace Wilson, photograph by Ira Liss