Inventor’s Workshop: Sound + Sculpture

Course Dates: June 30 to July 13, 2014
Application Deadline: May 2, 2014
THE DEADLINE FOR THIS COURSE HAS BEEN EXTENDED. Please contact the Course Coordinator for more information.

Make sculptures and environments come alive by exploring ways to integrate kinetics and sound into your designs. Take chances, work collaboratively, and gain new tools and skills to add to your studio practice. Learn directly from masters in the field who offer a wide variety of approaches to sound art and its close companion, kinetic art.

  • Expand your ways of thinking about making art.
  • Learn new approaches to building sculptures with sound and movement in a stimulating environment where the participants and teachers come from a blend of many disciplines.
  • Learn how to include sound in your work by building your own aural components from scratch.
  • Learn how to control electromechanical devices  (motors, solenoids, lights etc.) through microcontrollers.
  • Enjoy the miracles of constructing art from recycled materials (our junkyard trip).
  • Show your work in a culminating public exhibition.

Reactive Sculpture 4Trimpin with students at Summer Arts 2010


Undergraduate: ART 424, 3 units
Graduate: ART 624, 3 units


This course is designed for undergraduate and graduate students as well as others who want to incorporate sound and movement into the things they make. Demonstrations and hands-on practice will bring the beginner up to speed and bring the advanced students into new territory. A willingness to learn through practice, ask questions, and experiment is essential. The low student-to-instructor ratio is designed to help all student levels advance in their ideation and technical skills. Students will create individual work as well as collaborative projects. We support a cross-discipline student population!

Some experience in any of the following fields, along with good hand coordination and enthusiasm for discovery is essential:
Artists: all!…sculptors, ceramicists, painters, electronic arts digital artists, fiber artists, etc.
Musicians: composers, performers, instrument makers
Engineers: manufacturing, mechanical, electrical, geeks, hackers, coders, makers
Other arts: theatre, dance, animation, car mechanics, etc.

1)      Send a CD that includes your resume and 10 images of your work. Include a list that corresponds to these images, giving the title, year, materials, and date for each piece. For disciplines outside the visual arts, the CD should include 10 examples of whatever you do, such as music, engineering projects, etc. Write a one-page personal statement that expresses your background and interest in the Inventor’s Workshop: Sound + Sculpture class. Include your website address if you have one. List two references and describe how you know them (i.e., instructor, fellow artist, etc.) along with their phone number and email for possible contact.
2)      Send the materials listed in step one with your completed Registration Form to the Summer Arts office by May 2, 2014.

Professor Sheri Simons
530-898-4996 or 530-592-9773


Trimpin states, “My work is an ongoing exploration of the concepts of sound, vision and movement, experimenting with combinations that will introduce our senses of perception to a totally new experience. Although I use the latest technology available, I work with “natural” elements – water, air, light, fire, etc. – and reconfigure them in new and unusual applications, pushing them to the limits, and beyond, of what we traditionally think of as their role. In most projects, I’ve had to develop my own components, because there was nothing commercially available that could be used for my particular expectation.

I am continually seeking new forms of expression, but many times using methods that may actually be ancient in origin – a tuning system that may be a thousand years old, for example, or using a computer to achieve acoustic, rather than synthesized, sound.

Almost a quarter century’s pursuit of discovery and application has taken place in my development of a body of work, with early experiences in art, music and technical training, theatre set design, and kinetic sculpture serving as subtext in varying degrees for each successive project. The balance between visual and aural in my work is not coincidental – I’m not content to create something which merely functions technically or is pleasing to the eye – it is the complexity of dimensions which offers the most satisfaction. The time-space concept, which can be expressed musically as well as visually, has been brought to the point where we can visualize sound. “

Sasha Leitman –
Sasha Leitman is a musician, artist, teacher and inventor. Currently she runs the “Max Lab – an Interface Prototyping Lab” at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) where she has collaborated and co-taught with Jonathan Abel, Trimpin, and the late Max Matthews. She has been making musical instruments, new interfaces for musical expression and sound art installations for ten years.

Raised on the Central Coast of California, Sasha began studying music and guitar at age 11. She learned building and fabrication skills as a light commercial diver – performing extensive underwater maintenance, and fiberglass repair – and eventually learned to weld. Her devotion to music and construction converged when she attended Stanford University, where she received a BA in music and an MA in Music, Science and Technology.

Beyond composition and computer programming, Sasha has worked extensively with computer music controllers and Human Computer Interface Design. Large works include PlaySoundGround, an adult-sized interactive musical playground, Electric Barrels and BuskBox; two amplified musical instruments designed specifically for street performance. She also regularly records whale song on homemade hydrophones near Monterey, California.

Sasha’s work is built out of four main influences: computer music, new musical instrument design, DIY maker culture, and the industrial sculpture of the San Francisco Bay Area. When composing, storytelling is imperative to her. But when she’s making sculptures she focuses on creating evocative spaces and environments that invite the viewer to create their own stories. It is important to her that her work is robust and interactive because she likes people to explore it without fear of destroying it.

Michael Shiloh –        
Michael Shiloh works with sound, electronics, glass, concrete, metal, motors, and people to create sculptural and conceptual works. Trained formally as an electrical engineer, Michael started creating conceptual furniture and installations, and went on to collaborate with Survival Research Labs, a large scale machine art performance group. He has been experimenting with works that demand viewer participation, building robots which do nothing until online visitors program them. Without knowing who was using it and what they were trying to do, the robot would start to move, often in the middle of the night (many visitors were from different time zones).  Continuing this idea, Michael and partner Judy Castro organized massive contraption building workshops at Maker Faire and created similar installations at The Exploratorium. In 2009 Michael and Judy created a group of robots for a robot art show (Automatic, Lowerdeck Gallery, November 2009). Similar to his earlier internet programmed robot, these robots did nothing until visitors programmed them, right there in the gallery.

Michael’s recent work includes The illusion of Communication, in which an English-to-Martian translating machine explores whether we can know that communication has occurred, and Meditations on Motion, which explores different types of electric motor movements while addressing work that never gets done.

Michael is passionate about exposing how things work, a feeling echoed in his strong passion about teaching and the Open Source. Part of Michael’s interest in participatory projects is his desire to challenge the distinction between artist and viewer, maker and consumer.