In what will surely be one of the festival’s jaw-droppers, Trimpin follows an artist who speaks best through his works. After explaining his fondness for using found objects, Trimpin—he’s jettisoned Gerhard, his first name—turns to a junkyard cashier and struggles to communicate where he found the metal cog he’s holding in his hand. Trimpin migrated from Germany to Seattle in the ’80s, and after almost 30 years in the United States, Trimpin still speaks mostly through his noisemakers: mobiles made of wooden clogs, disassembled marimba pipes that translate Richter-scale readings, and an automated plastic hand that moves its articulated digits in time with Mozart. During a collaborative meeting with a string quartet, Trimpin answers one performer’s logistical question by nodding knowingly and then singing a single note. The members of the quartet smile and try to hum along, as if that note really is an answer to the question at hand, but it’s obvious from the confused looks on their faces that Trimpin is thinking on a different plane. He doesn’t have a cell phone or a Web site, and he’s never recorded his music, and yet his installations marry digital production to mechanical engineering. At 58, Trimpin’s creations are amazing to behold but near-impossible to parse: He writes his scores on transcription paper, adding sidewalk chalk coloring and Jackson Pollock–esque splatters, rendering them incomprehensible to other musicians. Even the man himself occasionally interprets a score differently the second time around. In short, it’s a medium, not a language barrier.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, at Round House Theatre; also on Saturday, June 20, at 10:45 a.m. at AFI Silver.