Strange sounds: "Trimpin" hits the Red Vic


This is what genius is made of. Toy monkeys, Bunsen burners, turkey basters, wooden shoes, a 10,000 volt neon transformer, water. Or at least, this is the shape of inspired thought in “Trimpin: The Sound of Invention,” a film playing this weekend at the Red Vic Movie House whose focus is on a sound sculptor creating fantastic sculptures of instruments that are actually played by intricately tuned computer programs.

"Trimpin: The Sound of Invention" playing this weekend at the Red Vic Movie House

Never heard of Trimpin? Maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of the German born artist's installation at Seattle's Experience Music Project, ‘If VI was IX.’ It’s creation is followed in the movie; a self-tuning stack of 700 guitars piled 50 feet high, programmed to play songs from Scottish ballads to punk rock- even a genre created by Trimpin that he calls “kingk rock.” The instruments soar from the museum’s floor like some stirring auditory tornado that is its own conductor, creating an enveloping sound experience for its audience. Filmmakers have done us a great service by documenting the development and implementation of 'If VI was IX'- it is not every artist that has the cranial space to conceive of such a project.

Trimpin is a difficult artist to categorize, but “The Sound of Invention” tries to cover all the bases. He is shown in his capacities as a composer, a mechanical/computer engineer, a lover of auditory pleasures, a savant. He makes sound art from unlikely sources- see my list that begins this post- and uses them for all ranges of musical forms, from the known to the previously unimagined. This is the first time the world has gotten such a close look at the man- Trimpin has never sought representation by a dealer or gallery, and up to the release of the movie, had never recorded the soundtracks created by his brainchildren commercially.

But hey, here they are, all tied up with a neat cinematic bow- sounds like... a great flick.

“Trimpin: The Sound of Invention”
Fri/29 7:15, 9:15 (through Sun/31), $6-9
Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight, SF
(415) 668-3994

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