One of the most important multimedia artists of his generation, and surely one of the greatest experimental composers of our time, American minimalist composer, filmmaker and video artist Phill Niblock has passed away last 8th January aged 90. His ‘Intermedia Art’ features a combination of minimalist music, conceptual art, structural cinema, systematic or even political art, and has actively contributed to transform our perception and experience of time.
Phill Niblock initiated his career as a photographer and film director. A jazz passionate, he moved to New York in 1958 where he started photography in the mid-1960s, specializing in portraits of jazz musicians (Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Billy Strayhorn…). In the middle of the 1960s, he made his first films for the dancers and choreographers of the Judson Church Theater. From 1968 on, he focused on music and composed his first pieces, which, according to the artist, maintained from the start that they should be listened to at loud volume (in the region of/close to 120db) in order to explore their overtones.
Phill Niblock was particularly interested in the screening of moving images—films and slideshows. Produced between 1966 and 1969, Six Films, a series of short films with sound realised with 16mm film, heralds his experimental method through portraits of artists and musicians such as Sun Ra and Max Neuhaus. In 1968, the artist started experimenting a combination of his visual productions with his musical scores in order to create sound architectural and environmental compositions.
Phill Niblock was the director of Experimental Intermedia, a foundation born in the flames of 1968’s barricade-hopping.