Terry Trickett:  Digital Artist

Working previously as an architect and designer, Terry Trickett has now become a Digital Artist exhibiting artworks and videos worldwide and performing ‘visual music’ at various New Media festivals. He has embraced the techniques of programming and developed methods for producing moving images as a complement to musical performance. By calling on his skills as a clarinettist, his performances of various compositions for solo clarinet are matched by the simultaneous projection of his visual interpretations of the pieces.

Terry Trickett’s interest in digital art has been influenced in part by his work as an architect but also by his involvement, over many years, in an initiative that succeeded in bringing the disciplines of science and art closer together.  With the Wellcome Trust, Terry Trickett invented and instigated a wide-ranging project (Sci-Art) in which scientists and artists, working in partnership, were encouraged to pool their ideas and, thereby, maximise each other’s creative potential.  The project ran with considerable success for 10 years (1997 - 2006). The Legacy of Sci-Art

This interest in the dual worlds of art and science pervades Terry Trickett’s cross-disciplinary approach towards creating Visual Music.  It was a visit to the V&A’s Decode exhibition in 2010 that first  ignited his interest in moving digital imagery. Here, many works were built with Processing – an advanced program for creating movement – which led to Terry Trickett learning the techniques involved and then extending these skills into the realm of Visual Music.  

Terry Trickett performed visual music, in June 2015, at the UVM (Understanding Visual Music) Symposium held in Brasilia.  Previously, in November 2014, he performed at the 20th International Symposium of Electronic Art held in Dubai, and in August 2014, at DRHA (Digital Research in the Humanities & Arts), Greenwich, United Kingdom.

Last year, Terry Trickett presented and performed 'Turingalila: Turing Patterns as a mechanism for investigating the processes of nature' at Balance Unbalance 2016, held in Colombia. 'Turingalila' also featured in his presentation at EvoMUSART held in Porto, Portugal.  'Revealing the Colours of the Apocalypse' was the subject of his most recent presentations and performances at V&A Digital Futures and EVA (Electronic Visualisatiion of the Arts) 2016, both held in London.

For an explanation of how and why I produce my Visual Music pieces, click here

YouTube Video

A fascination with the ghost City of Fatehpur Sikri, 40 miles from Agra in North India, has stayed with me ever since I first visited the site in the 1980s.  As the centre of the Mughal Empire for a brief period in the 16th century, the City was remarkable for its architecture, art and music.  Emperor Akbar established not only an atelier of artists to record every aspect of court life but, also, gathered together musicians from every corner of North India.  Hindustani ragas composed at that time are still mainstays in the repertoires of Indian musicians today.  'Ragatime’ is a raga that celebrates  both the sights and sounds of Akbar's court at Fatehpur Sikri

During his reign at Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar ordered, for his own delight, regular performances of Hindustani classical music.  So as to better understand the complexities of Indian ragas (modal systems of Indian classical music), he himself had undergone some training as a vocalist – enough to develop an an-depth appreciation of the skills of the 30 or so classical musicians he retained at his court.  Of these, Mian Tansen, who remains famous to this day, was the Emperor’s favourite musician.

We owe our detailed knowledge of Akbar’s achievements to a contemporary biography, Ain-i-Akbari written, in Persian, by his friend Abul Fazi.  As the Emperor was dyslexic and largely illiterate, he placed considerable emphasis on the illustrations included in both the books he commissioned (eg his biography) and those he had read to him.  As a result, Indian Miniatures of this period provide a fascinating insight into the life and times of Fatehpur Sikri.

No lesser authority than Pandit Ravi Shankar has explained that the Sanskrit saying – ‘Ranjayathi iti Ragah’- means that which colours the mind is a raga.  For this to happen, its effect must be created not only through the notes and embellishments, but also by the presentation of the specific emotion or mood characteristic of each raga.  Unlike Western music, nothing is written down, although improvised interpretations must take account of the raga’s ascending – descending structure and also its chalan – the melodic pattern that characterises a particular raga.  In my paper, I explain how this is achieved with particular reference to Raga Bilaskhani Todi, composed by Tansen’s son who first performed it at his father’s funeral.

Historical records of Akbar’s 18 year reign in Fatehpur Sikri fail to adequately explain the sudden departure of his court in 1588.  But recent research has shown that, at the time, a pattern of severe weather was responsible for a period of famine and resulting economic depression.  The conclusion must be that Akbar was defeated by a manifestation of the Little Ice Age.

YouTube Video

In the last two years of his life, the great mathematician, Alan Turing, turned his attention to the subject of morphogenesis.  He wanted to know how complex biological growth and development could be achieved via simple, natural mechanisms.  The result of his research, which is now recognised as a masterpiece of mathematical modelling, enables a wide variety of natural forms to be simulated within the framework of the Turing model.  ‘Turingalila’ celebrates this immense achievement.

Alan Turing’s paper ‘The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis’, written in 1952, defines how self-regulated pattern formation occurs in the developing animal embryo.  Its most revolutionary feature is the concept of a ‘reaction’ that generates morphogens.  These ‘form producers’  are responsible for producing the nearly limitless arrangements of patterns that can be observed in animal and fish markings. My approach, in creating Visual Music on the theme of morphogenesis, is to subject two, entirely abstract, Turing Patterns to a process of continuous change and development.  Germaine Tailleferre’s Sonata for Solo Clarinet, similarly develops continuously which enables me to start with a comparatively simple demonstration of growth and development in the first movement and, then, in two subsequent short movements, to produce imagery which becomes more and more complex. My overall aim is to explore the visual ramifications of Turing’s unsurpassable ability to find linking patterns between many separate mathematical and scientific disciplines.   .

My title ‘Turingalila’ is a pun on the word ‘Turangalîla’ from Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphonie.  The composer derived his title from two Sanskrit words, turanga and lîla, which, roughly translated, mean ‘love, song, and hymn of joy, time, movement, rhythm, life and death’ – in fact everything embraced by the concept of morphogenesis!

YouTube Video

Citirama is an experimental performance where the patterns of architecture join the rhythms of music in mutual celebration.  The inspiration for creating this piece of Visual Music was one particular building in the City of London - the Leadenhall Bulding, colloquially known as ‘the cheesegrater’.  I knew from my first visit onwards that its very individual form of visual expression would offer a rich source of pattern-making material.  This is because the cheesegrater makes its mark by revealing structure, services and circulation routes on the outside.  The workings of the building are not hidden but, instead, they become the means of expressing its nature and function.  It invites people inside rather than presenting a closed façade to the world.

So what are the patterns manifest in the cheesegrater?  I think, first and foremost, what I’ve found is a series of leitmotifs.  (I’m making use of the musical connotations of this term quite deliberately.)  Sometimes these are small details and at other times they are whole elevations or complete spaces.  But always they serve to capture a design language that produces architecture of exceptional quality.

My experimental performance requires not only an ordering of images derived from the cheesegrater’s leitmotifs  but, also, a complementary ordering of movement derived from the rhythms of a musical counterpart.  I’ve found this in Richard Rodney Bennett’s Sonatina for Solo Clarinet.  The constantly changing rhythmic patterns of the Sonatina’s three movements have led to me producing a piece of Visual Music that demonstrates a close interchange between architecture and music.  It’s a two-way process whereby, in my performance on solo clarinet, I take delight in joining the patterns of architecture with the rhythms of music and, conversely, joining the rhythms of music with the patterns of architecture.  The visual and aural elements of my performance have equal importance.

In Citirama, I’ve produced an ordering of images that has taken flight into a realm of fantasy, where the rhythms of music join the patterns of architecture to celebrate the qualities of an exceptional building.  At one stage, I was worried that the creators of the cheesegrater would find my distortions of their building somewhat subversive.  In fact, I’m pleased to say that both the developer, British Land PLC, and the architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, are delighted with the result.  From my point of view, I see Citirama as an experimental performance which has begun to reveal a new type of relationship between music and architecture – no longer frozen but, instead, constantly moving and inventive.

Abîme des oiseaux is the third movement of Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time)  composed in extraordinary circumstances, in 1940-41, when Messaien was a prisoner of war.   It was influenced by the composer’s daily ritual of listening to the chorus of waking birds; Messaien had long regarded the clarinet as the ideal instrument for imitating birdsong which explains why Abîme des oiseaux is written for solo clarinet.

Terry Trickett performed this piece at the UVM (Understanding Visual Music) Symposium held in Brasilia, 2015

SHAPES is a celebration of abstract art (and artists) based on a transcription of J S Bach’s first Cello Suite. The Suite’s six contrasting movements give plenty of opportunity for expressing the intrinsic relationship that exists between music and abstract imagery. My interpretation of each movement, either consciously or unconsciously, has been influenced by the work of abstract artists. It is possible to glimpse, within each movement’s constantly shifting patterns, images that are familiar and identifiable; they bear close resemblance to the work of an individual well-known abstract artist. Nine works of abstract art, in particular, are pinpointed as SHAPES gradually unfolds.

Terry Trickett: clarinet and visual imagery

For ISEA2014 (International Seminar of Electronic Arts), Dubai, the highpoint of my performance of Visual Music was a work produced specially for the event – ‘Three Arabesques’.

In advance of this, I performed two other works – ‘Memories are Made of This’ and ‘SHAPES

In Three Arabesques I give full rein to my lifelong fascination with the complex geometry of Islam.  By playing a mathematical game based on hexagons, I produce patterns which take flight into a realm of geometric fantasy.  When performing this work, I play one part of Poulenc's Sonata for Two Clarinets live; the other part is recorded. 

This video is based on a demonstration I gave at Electronic Visualisation of the Arts (EVA) 2014, held in London.  It shows how, by combining computational design and clarinet playing, I create performances that demonstrate a close affinity between music and visual imagery.

Nothing is more complex than the human brain; the task of finding out how our brains create and retain memories remains an elusive enigma and, yet, this is the challenge I’ve set myself in Memories are Made of This.  My approach, typically that of an architect, takes geometry as its start point – in particular, a form of geometry (Islamic) which has often underpinned my own solutions to complex planning and design problems.

On 22 October 2013, Terry Trickett performed Visual Music at St Janes Theatre, London SW1.  He played compositions for solo clarinet matched by the simultaneous projection of his visual interpretations of the pieces.  It was an experimental concert that made full use of the advanced technological facilities at St James.
Cosmos, Cavalcade, Dawn Rocks and Gigue were all included.

The title Gigue refers to a movement from  J S Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G for cello transcribed for clarinet by Robert L Caravan

Composite stills from Gigue

Cosmos is based on the first movement of Victor Babin’s Divertissement Aspenois for solo clarinet.             




storyboard for Cosmos

Cavalcade generates a series of contrasting episodes with a common geometric link - circles.  The idea was sparked off by a musical composition for clarinet:

Andalusian Cadence from ’24 clarinet studies from the world’ by Gregory Barrett


storyboard for Cavalcade                                                        

                                                                                                                  storyboard for Dawn Rocks

                                                                                                     Pueblo Ghosts at Play


                                                                                                                           Three Pieces

Viral Life 1                                                                                                 Viral Life 2

for a moving version, click here

Viral Life 3

Zumala Zest  for movement and sound, click here                                   Abime des oiseaux (Abyss of the Birds)

Abime des oiseaux 
composite screen shots


sequence of stills from Belavadi  for video, click here

fire                                                     water                                                  earth                                                  air

Rainbow Worlds  for movement and sound, click here                            Pushkarini  for movement and sound, click here

Allegro amabile  for movement and sound, click here
Arabian Night  for movement and sound, click here

Quintet  for movement, click here                                                           Indian World  for movement and sound, click here


Olympiad 1,2,3 & 4

Metamorphosis complete with sound, click here                                             Flight  for action, click here

Metamorphosis                                                                                        Metamorphosis 1  for action click here


Metamorphosis 2   for action click here                                                   Metamorphosis 3  for action click here

Metamorphosen 1  for a moving version click here                                 Metamorphosen 2  for action click here

Slow Strobing Sphere  for action click here                                             La Creation du Monde  for action click here

                                                                                                                            Burning Bush
  for action click here

Boogie Woogie                                                                                          for a Boogie Woogie sequence click here

Japanese Sunrise                                                                                     for a Japanese Sunrise sequence click here

Necklaces  for changing colours click here                                              A new kind of art  aka. Stephan Wolfram
                                                                                                                  for a revolving Wolfram, click here

for a continuation of Terry Trickett's Digital Artworks click here

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