Phill Niblock (1933 -2024) was 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 and videos which look at the movement of people working, slides, or computer-driven black-and-white abstract images floating through time.
Niblock arrived to Plasy with Paul Panhuysen for the first festival in 1992 and returned for most of the festivals during next years.
Niblock was born in Indiana. Since the mid-60s he has been making music and intermedia performances which have been shown at numerous venues around the world. He has been a member of the Experimental Intermedia Foundation since 1968 and its director since 1985. Niblock has produced about 1000 Music and Intermedia presentations at EI since 1973 and is a curator of EI’s XI Records label. In 1993 he formed an Experimental Intermedia organization in Gent, Belgium, EI v.z.w. Gent, to support the artist-in-residence house and installations there.
Niblock had no formal musical training. His minimalistic drone approach to composition and music was inspired by the musical and atistic activities of New York in the 1960s (from the art of Mark Rothko, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Robert Morris to the music of John Cage and Morton Feldman’s Durations). Niblock’s music is an exploration of sound textures created by multiple tones in very dense, often atonal tunings (generally microtonal in conception) performed in long durations. Many of his pieces are based on collaborations with specific musicians; over the years he has thus worked with a large number of the most diverse players including: Susan Stenger, Robert Poss, Jim O’Rourke, Ulrich Krieger, Seth Josel, Peter Kotik, Tom Buckner, and many others.
Niblock was the recipient of the prestigious 2014 Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage award. His music is available on the XI, Moikai, Mode Records, and Touch labels. A double-DVD of films and music, lasting nearly four hours, is available on from Extreme.