Phill Niblock is an intermedia artist using music, film, photography, video and computers. He makes thick, loud drones of music, filled with microtones of instrumental timbres which generate many other tones in the performance space. Simultaneously, he presents films / videos which look at the movement of people working, or computer driven black and white abstract images floating through time. He was born in Indiana in 1933. Since the mid-60's he has been making music and intermedia performances which have been shown at numerous venues around the world among which: The Museum of Modern Art; The Wadsworth Atheneum; the Kitchen; the Paris Autumn Festival; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Akademie der Kunste, Berlin; ZKM; Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard; World Music Institute at Merkin Hall NYC, etc. He has had
grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Creative Artists Public Service Program, the City University of New York Research Foundation and the Foundation for the Contemporary Performance Arts.Since 1985, he has been the director of the Experimental Intermedia Foundation in New York
(<http://www.experimentalintermedia.org/>) where he has been an artist/member since 1968. He is the producer of Music and Intermedia presentations at EI since 1973 (about 1000 performances) and the curator of EI's XI Records label. In 1993 he formed an Experimental Intermedia organization in Gent, Belgium - EI v.z.w. Gent - which supports an artist-in-residence house he set up and installations there. Phill Niblock's music is available on the XI, Moikai and Touch labels. A DVD of films and music is available on the Extreme label.
«One can say that he works with loud sustained tones, that he piles them together in multi-track versions, that the tones are produced originally on conventional wind and stringed instruments, that they are purposely out of tune, and that the resulting frequencies beat wildly against one another . . . rhythmically active these sustained pieces are, due to the many beats or pulsations which come about as the 'out-of-tune' notes jar against one another».
Tom Johnson, Village Voice
«The music has a steady kinetic push that makes you feel like you're riding on some slow vehicle taking you directly into the details of the picture».
Wendy Perron, New York Native
«Mr. Niblock has carved out a valuable place for himself in recent years on the lower Manhattan avant-garde scene. There's his loft itself, which he has made into an important place for experimental composers to display their wares in pleasant, unpressured surroundings. And then there's his own work. Mr. Niblock is best known as a composer, but he is also a film-maker, and usually he likes to display both facets of his art together. The films are silent studies of peasant labor, shot in places like Mexico, Peru, Baffin Island and South Africa, with the camera focused mostly on the labor itself-hands, backs and plows-rather than the laborers. In conjunction with this, Mr. Niblock plays his music, but no one piece is ever meant for a particular film. The music is, on its simplest level, tape-recordings of live instruments, sometimes with a live musician playing along. But it's actually considerably more complicated than that. Mr. Niblock takes one or more instrumentalists and records certain notes with them, tuned exactly by electronic means. He then takes those notes and begins to edit, in the manner of a film-maker. He cuts out breath pauses from wind instruments, juxtaposes closely related notes to produce accoustical beats, and creates vast, humming, throbbing frescoes of sound. The results lack almost entirely the busy linear sequence of incident that makes up most music, classical or popular. But Mr. Niblock's ideas are so clearly focused, his evolution within his own terms so steady, and the technical finish of both music and film so loving that his work becomes overtly compelling».
John Rockwell, The New York Times
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