Trimpin’s sound contraptions — including a vinyl jukebox and horns that surround the viewer with gentle vibrations — come to the Winston Wächter gallery.

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For decades, there were two constants in the career of Seattle sound artist Trimpin.

He never issued recordings of the compositions that his astonishing music-making contraptions produced. And he didn’t have any gallery representation.

Lately, things have changed.

Exhibition review

Trimpin: “Hear We Are”

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through March 9, Winston Wächter Fine Art, 203 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle; free (206-652-5855 or

“Hear We Are” is the German-born artist’s second show at Seattle’s Winston Wächter gallery and, unlike Trimpin’s earlier museum exhibits, it offers works for sale. Among those items are a limited-edition vinyl LP of “Above, Below, and In-Between,” the site-specific composition for live musicians and robotic instruments that the Seattle Symphony premiered in the lobby of Benaroya Hall last spring.

“This will be my first and last recording ever,” Trimpin said. He sees it as a “documentation” of the lobby concert rather than “really representative” of it. All five marvelous, sound-making electro-devices in the Winston Wächter show have direct links to the Symphony event, too.

How did gallery director Stacey Winston Levitan talk Trimpin into joining the gallery marketplace?

“I’ve always been passionate about his work,” she says. What she hoped to offer him was a way to combine art, technology and community connection in a space that accommodated his pieces elegantly. “I think he was excited,” she said. “He really wants the work to be accessible.”

Before the show’s opening last week, Trimpin said: “I’m not usually interested to do this. But why not, when I can do whatever I want? And I’m not doing something twice. So when somebody wants to buy whatever, I don’t make a copy … It’s a one-time deal.”

The works in “Hear We Are” include the colorful scores that Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot and the musicians worked from, combining musical notation with hand-drawn illustrations showing how the instruments and players were arrayed around Benaroya’s lobby. The drawings also indicate how the piece’s prepared piano was rigged up with a flywheel, a damper and other devices to produce its unusual sounds.

The centerpiece of the show, however, is “Reedhorn Installation.” It magnificently reconfigures actual instruments used in the concert. The horns, triggered into action by standing on a sensor pad, produce a circular geometry of sound around you that has the meditative qualities of a church organ vibrating in gentle reverie.

Its four companion pieces have more of a tinker’s-workshop eccentricity to them, as they play recorded excerpts from of “Above, Below, and In-Between.” “DadaData II” serves up those excerpts in a reel-to-reel tape format (again, viewer-triggered). “Vertical Vinyl” and the coin-operated “Vinyl Juke” feature turntables that viewers are invited to put into action. Any resulting record scratches, Trimpin said, are integral to the piece: “Maybe we should make a sign — ‘please abuse.’”

The LPs for sale are in pristine condition, of course, and you can also download the piece from The Symphony wanted to issue a compact disc of the live performance, but Trimpin insisted on vinyl because it involves more physical interaction than “tapping in a CD.”

Vinyl, he added, takes him back to his childhood when he bought his first Beatles record, even though he didn’t own a record player. Instead, he would go to a friend’s house to listen to it.

“That was a completely different experience,” he recalled. “Everybody brought their records, and then you took time to listen.”

Trimpin is well aware that most people don’t own record players these days — but he hopes they’ll duplicate his boyhood ritual by taking their LPs to someone who has a turntable.