How has your work or your way of thinking about your work evolved over the last year?
Phill Niblock’s Winter Solstice is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by the ARTS Council of the Southern Fingerlakes.
R. From October 2 2013 to October 2 2014 (my birthdays), I made 14 new pieces of music, about 6 hours of music, enough to fill the entire six hour program.
PN: I came to NY (1958) then started to do photography, in 1960. All close together. Not so many now. Can you tell us a little about that organization and your current season?
Phill Niblock performs his Winter Solstice concert every year at Roulette. The event is six sublime hours of music (acoustic and electronic) and mixed media film and video in a live procession that charts the movement of our planet and the progress of ourselves through art and performance at is maximal best.
R: Are there any recent technological innovations that you find particularly exciting for the future of experimental art? What types of innovations would you like to see in the coming years?
PN: We both (Jim Staley and I) have a feeling for helping/producing other artists, the reason for both of us to start producing concerts.
But that idea was more forceful for Jim, so he almost always produced more concerts. Then film in 1965 and music in 1968. R: Your use of prolonged dissonance has the effect of almost physicalizing sound, as if it is something the audience can interact with at will. I was hanging around the Judson Dance Theater (Judson Church), beginning to do film with Elaine Summers and I wanted to make an intermedia piece with multiple film images and music and dancers. How have the two grown alongside each other? What differentiates them?
. It grew to being about 50 concerts a year, soon. I was touring and meeting many composers, both internationally and nationally, so the variety of the experimental musics was wide. I expect to play mostly the newest pieces of music and also show the latest videos on my December 21st concert at Roulette.
We spoke with Phill Niblock about the evolution of his work and his own series at his Experimental Music Foundation, founded in 1968, which was a huge part of the experimental music world at the time that Roulette was born.
R: You first came to New York as a photographer and eventually moved onto filmmaking. Do you see your music as arising out of the same artistic instinct as the more visual-based mediums in which you work?
R: You also direct the presenting organization, Experimental Intermedia. In the most recent years, I have made more new music than ever before, and also new HD video projects. But the digital age will not stand still, so I will continue to adapt to the new technology. Roulette and Experimental Intermedia have a lot in common – from the type of artists programmed to their mutual starting point in downtown Manhattan lofts. And it was originally eight hours long.
But in the past few years, my output of work has gone up. There is no relationship between the music and the other media, they simply co-exist in the event, then and until now.
R: Your annual solstice concert celebrates the longest night of the year. EI was founded by the late Elaine Summers in 1968, and I was a member artist, so we could apply for funding with the non-profit organization. And still is.
PN: I am just trying to use what is around now, ever better. Your installation work suggests an attention to the theme of interactivity, but to what degree does that guide your composition?PN: Only, in that I interact with the materials (sound) that I am working with. I have recorded tones by a musician playing a specific instrument (a piece for bassoon is coming next) that I am placing into the form that the music will take, using multitrack software to amass the tonal aggregation that will be the final work. This event has been going on since 1976, first at Experimental Intermedia, and recently at Roulette. Since I could leave the sound system in place, it was easy to convert to doing concerts. So I did in 1968, and again in 1969, ’71 and ’72, and that was the first music. That is particularly true in the past twenty years, where EI produces about 15 to 20 concerts a year, and Roulette – countless.
And, I have stayed in the loft where I also live.
PN: Well. It was called “Concerts by Composers”, to distinguish the series from an ensemble or band emphasis. And I am interested in that physical presence the music will have in the performance space, one of the reasons for the volume of sound which I use.
Purchase tickets here for Phill Niblock’s Winter Solstice Concert on December 21, 2015.
Experimental Intermedia Foundation
PN: I began producing concerts in 1973, because I was in a big space with a sound system, and there were many music people needing to make public presentations
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