I have always been inspired by music, and motivated to create visual art that pays homage to my favorite musicians and their work. For this project, I have set out to implement the creative philosophies of minimalist composer Terry Riley and his contemporaries. The three specific concepts that I have observed and have adopted are as follows:
1. The willingness to leave the creative process open to nonconscious influence i.e. improvisation, algorithmic chance and generative process.
2. Deriving influence from eastern traditions
3. Achieving the above mentioned via the implementation of new and experimental technology.
Raga is a tradition in Indian classical music where the musician improvises within the musical framework of a scale using various repeated musical motifs. Vocalist Pandit Pran Nath is one of the oldest and highly respected proprietors of this tradition, and my exposure to raga through Pran Nath’s influence on Terry Riley is where the story of this piece began. It is in the spirit of raga that I have designed a framework that allows my nonconscious to manifest this imagery. Like the performance of a raga, each of these star motifs is birthed from set parameters, and like Riley, I looked east to cultivate inspiration for those parameters. The process I have laid out implements parametric design software so I can randomly generate pattern derived from Islamic design traditions. Each instance of this generative process you can see here engraved into these tiles.
Terry Riley has described what happens when he improvises music as “waiting for God’s next gift.” Commenting on that same spirit, Brian Eno, a music producer who is also influenced by Riley and his contemporaries, when referring to religiously/spiritually-centered musicians made this claim:
“They’re not there to present themselves, they’re there to receive something, to open themselves up to something… (religious music) is the sound of someone being in a receptive and trusting and vulnerable condition.”
This is what I strive to achieve in my creative process. In hopes that what I am gifted when I let myself be vulnerable and receptive, will be the state of experiencing the infinite artistic thread that connects us all.
I curated a playlist to accompany this piece. It includes Riley and Pran Nath’s work, as well as a variety of eastern music, minimal music, and music inspired in some way by both of those concepts. You can listen to both of those playlists here: