Attack of the Bumbershoot Music Robots!

While I was previewing the Sounds Human exhibit in the Lopez and Fidalgo Rooms, the Trimpin installation wasn't yet operative. The work, Laptop Percussion Sextet, is now up and running, in a gallery next to Shimon "The Improvising Robotic Musician." The latter is Isaac Asimov, while Trimpin's work is more Rube Goldberg.

Both, however, will delight your kids. Shimon probably required a million miles of computer code to program his (its?) xylophone playing. The Laptop Sextet comprises six obsolete old computers, with less memory than a cheap digital watch. You wouldn't pay $6 for them at a yard sale. But Trimpin is more interested in their semi-hollow acoustics than RAM. The drumsticks affixed to each laptop, like arms, produce a pleasing clattering chorus in response to the drum machine they're hooked up to. When the installation bursts into motion, it's like a flock of birds suddenly erupting into flight. Shimon is more polished and sophisticated. The laptops seem more ingeniously low-tech.

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