Trimpin (German, born 1951)
Red Hot, 2013
Multi-media installation with prepared piano, steel armature, and artist’s original scores
120 x 72 x 72 inches
Courtesy of the artist
Musician, installation artist, and winner of a MacArthur “genius award”, Trimpin is the creator of experimental installations that span genres and defy categorization. His massive and complex guitar tower If VI Was IX, 1999, commissioned by the Experience Music Project in Seattle, is a marvelous example of his command of space and sound. It is constructed of 700 guitars, 30 of which play and tune themselves automatically.
Red Hot is an electronically automated robotic structure constructed from a bright red, repurposed, grand piano that conjures up images of Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox, a cadmium red harp, or a giant heart. The tripod suspending it and delicate metal music stand lend the piece an element of drawing linking distinctive sculptural shapes – like the rods in an Alexander Calder mobile. In Red Hot, the metal lines become a perfect counterpoint to the massive floating piano. The piece is a continuation of Trimpin’s decades-long fascination with Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This form of control, new to Trimpin, is adapted from the same technology now being developed to automate driverless vehicles. The audience interacts with Red Hot by activating the sound-making mechanism – becoming conductors by standing at the podium and gesturing with a sweeping movement of the hands. Activation occurs only if the performer is standing on the indicated space. Red Hot is programmed with a disarming variety of the artist’s original musical compositions. Trimpin’s technologically rich, imaginative, playful, and engaging work has established him as both a musical genius and a renowned visual artist.