Phill Niblock, minimalist composer and intermedia artist


Rina Sherman
VOICES, meetings with remarkable people
HD, couleurs, 64 min, 2014

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Phill Niblock, minimalist composer and intermedia artist

Rina Sherman

HD, couleurs, 64 min, 2014

VOICES, meetings with remarkable people

A cineportrait of Phill Niblock (1933–2024), American composer, pioneer of drone music, essentially creating music through the slow accumulation of sustained microtones obtained from reprocessing acoustic instruments, filmmaker and director of avant-garde music foundation Experimental Intermedia in NYC, who,  since the 60s developed a multidisciplinary body of work, mostly performed by himself, with Minimalist music, conceptual art and structural cinema, systematic art and politics. Recognized as one of the greatest experimental composers of our time, he was awarded the John Cage Prize in 2014 and his work has been shown around the world: The Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard.

Phill Niblock made music and intermedia performances since the ’60s that was showed around the world (The Museum of Modern Art, The Wadsworth Atheneum, the Kitchen, the Paris Autumn Festival, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard).. Since 1985, he directed  the Experimental Intermedia Foundation in New York, where he produced Music and Intermedia presentations since 1975 and he was the curator of EI’s XI Record label.

Phill Niblock was born in Indiana in 1933. He is a retired professor of film, video and photography at The College of Staten Island, the City University of New York. Phill Niblock’s music is available on the XI, Moikai, Mode, Matiere Memoire, Room 40, and Touch labels. DVDs of films and music are available on the Extreme label and Von Archive.

Phill Niblock

Gahlberg Gallery, College of DuPage

Life All Over Phill Niblock Gahlberg Gallery McAninch Arts Center

Phill Niblock

Thursday, April 19 to Saturday, May 26, 2007
The Gahlberg Gallery/McAninch Arts Center would like to thank the writer, Guy De Bievre, and the artist,
Phill Niblock, for their generous assistance and creativity in developing this publication.

Barbara Wiesen
Director and Curator

The Anecdotes From Childhood also features in

Phill Niblock

Working Title (+ DVD)

édition bilingue (français / anglais)
Les presses du réel – Musique & arts sonores – Ohcetecho (arts sonores)
Frac Franche-Comté – Monographies & catalogues
Un panorama des activités de l’artiste multimédia et compositeur new-yorkais depuis les années 1960, à travers une vingtaine d’essais de musicologues, de critiques et d’historiens de l’art, des entretiens, divers documents et plus de 8 heures de vidéos sur DVD inclus.

Cette édition présente, à travers une vingtaine d’essais de musicologues, critiques et historiens de l’art, et d’entretiens avec Phill Niblock, un panorama des activités, depuis les années 1960, de l’artiste-musicien new-yorkais, compositeur majeur du courant minimaliste américain et artiste multimédia avant la lettre. Accompagné d’illustrations, de partitions et de 2 DVD double face contenant plus de 8 heures de vidéos, cet ouvrage est la première monographie bilingue consacrée au travail de Phill Niblock.


A series of Video Pieces by Phill Niblock
1 Chang Hsien-Chen #2 (Taiwan) 19’25
2 Frank Owen (New York State) 21’21
3 Clarence Barlow (Köln) 19’37
4 Rina Sherman (South Africa) 32’07
5 Veronica “Sweetie” Campbell (Jamaica) 19’53
6 Chang Hsien-Chen – 1 (Taiwan) 17’32

Roulette TV is a cable access television program produced by the experimental music institution Roulette in New York City. Roulette TV captures the creative process of live performance, giving viewers a unique window into Roulette’s distinctive programming through in-depth artist-driven features including studio visits, performance footage, and interviews.

Composer, filmmaker, and photographer, Phill Niblock runs the Experimental Intermedia Foundation in New York and writes noble, hypnotic, majestic music constituted of sustained sounds for large instrumental ensembles of the same family (e.g. all strings, all flutes, all trombones, etc.) that very gradually change their timbre and pitch characteristics (pieces such as “Four Full Flutes”, “Early Winter” for massed strings, “Didjeridoos”, and “Five More Strings Quartets”).

The beginning and ending segments of Phill Niblock’s composition “Guitar too, for four,” also known as “G2, 44.”

Although only three guitarists are seen on the tape, the computer samples make a total of 24 guitar parts plus two tracks respectively from five other players, which contribute to a slowly unfolding density of harmonic richness. On two screens are images of Japanese workers on Honshu island unloading and processing fish, mending and re-stringing nets, trawling out to sea, and displaying their catch. Bits of ephemeral melodic-like gestures (overtone illusions) sometimes arise later in the piece. In his interview, Niblock explains how the notion of minimalism applies to his music, his fascination with the movements of people working, his efforts to get rid of editing-style, his relationship to the audience, and how to keep his work filled with content but “neutral” in the sense of allowing the audience their own perceptions.

Aired on rTV: 2000 Performance: May 14, 2000 Produced by Jim Staley — Founded in 1978, Roulette’s mission is to support artists creating new and adventurous art in all disciplines by providing them with a venue and resources to realize their creative visions and to build an audience interested in the evolution of experimental art.


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