Liquid Letters: Interactive Art at Snoqualmie Library
When well-known artist Trimpin was asked to create a piece of artwork for the new Snoqualmie Library, the first thing that came to mind was water. Snoqualmie, known for its famous 270-foot waterfall, inspired Trimpin to combine both water and the alphabet.
He inquired whether there would be any objection to using water at the library and when given the go-ahead, decided to explore using water as a medium for learning how to read. The result is his interactive art piece, called Liquid Letters, which was designed especially for the library.
“I hope to give both children and adults a different way to deal with perception, recognition and cognition,” said Trimpin, who goes by his last name. “You have to learn how to read again and that is how the brain gets stimulated; it’s not something people see everyday in mass media channels.”
The art piece was designed to be interactive. Using a dial with letters of the alphabet, children and adults can program different words to be spelled out, such as their name. The letters, made out of water, descend from above one at a time to spell out words. When people are not interacting with the piece, a computer program prompts various words to be spelled out every five minutes, such as the name of the library and also the time.
Trimpin started working on Liquid Letters shortly before the new library opened in August 2007. Often referred to as a sound sculptor, Trimpin typically works with acoustical sound. Most of his other artwork integrates both sculpture and music and oftentimes computers are programmed to play instruments.
Trimpin’s artwork is displayed throughout Seattle at locations such as SeaTac airport, Key Arena and the Experience Music Project. This is his only piece of art that is displayed in a library and is one of his only pieces that doesn’t directly involve music. Although Liquid Letters does not emit audible sound, it nevertheless has a music-like quality to it, Trimpin said.
“People don’t hear it, but they can see it,” said the Germany native who has resided in Seattle for the past 30 years. “It simulates a certain kind of drum rhythm with the water falling down.”
Last Updated: July 8, 2008