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Seattle Sound Artist Trimpin’s Latest Work To Be Unveiled At Olympic Sculpture Park

Alison Marcotte

Three sets of oversized orange headphones have arrived at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

They’re parts of  “YOU ARE HEAR,” a temporary installation by Seattle sound artist Trimpin that will be unveiled Saturday.

The three listening stations are made of recycled aluminum lampshades, pipes and tractor seats. They’re perched along a grey retaining wall that runs through the middle of the sculpture park.

Even as Trimpin was installing them, passersby couldn’t help but stop and sit between the earpieces.

“What is it supposed to do for me?” asked Don Canon, who stopped to try it out while walking his dog. “It’s comfortable. I can say that.”

Credit Alison Marcotte / KPLU
Seattle sound installation artist Trimpin tries out one of the sound stations that make up his latest work.

Trimpin says the piece aims to confuse people, at least at first.

“Some people think, ‘Oh, it’s not even working,’ or whatever. You know, they think some sound has to be blasted out,” he said as he mused about people’s reactions. “But each listener comes up with their own interpretation, what they experienced.”

And they will experience different things. Each set of headphones pipes in different combinations of live sound: ambience from the street mixed with the sound of a rain stick see-sawing back and forth at one station, and a hidden toy piano being played by a computer at the other.

Credit Alison Marcotte / KPLU
Sound artist Trimpin explains his work at Olympic Sculpture Park.

Trimpin says he hopes people will take a moment to unplug when they visit this sculpture.

“We are so used to running around with headphones. And so this piece reflects on this kind of culture. But I hope it will make the listener and the viewer think differently about what we are listening to,” he said. ”With all the traffic right now, we’re hearing sirens or trains passing by, cars passing by. That’s all part of the piece.”

He says the urban sounds are meant to juxtapose with the stunning beauty of the Olympics and Puget Sound that the park overlooks.   

The installation is the first Seattle Art Museum has commissioned from Trimpin. It will stay through October.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.

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