A milestone film from American composer and filmmaker Phill Niblock, presented for the first time in DVD with two alternate soundtracks. T H I R is a mesmerizing and hypnotic film from his Environments series shot in upstate New York in 1972. This film is one of Niblock`s finest and undiscovered jewels. A must have classic release.
From 1968 to 1972, Phill Niblock presented four distinct intermedia projects, titled Environments I, II, III, and IV, (some in multiple versions) within various venues in New York City. Each of these works incorporated a different combination of multi-screen film projection, dance, 35mm color slides, and original music (generally from tape or occasionally performed live). Within these presentations, Niblock repeatedly experimented with the relationships, interactions, and hierarchies of seemingly discrete art forms in order to encourage intermedial encounters that were flexible, unstable, and structurally open. The inaugural work of these interdisciplinary undertakings was first performed at Judson Church in December of 1968. It featured film and dance, and significantly, also marked the debut of Niblock’s work as composer of music by presenting a piece that he wrote and recorded using that venue’s pipe organ. This cycle of works also included Cross Country (Environments II) (1970), featuring footage shot by the filmmaker in his motorcycle sojourns across the United States, and 100 Hundred Mile Radius (1971), with imagery shot within one hundred miles of Clinton, New York. His last work in this series was T H I R (aka Ten Hundred Inch Radii) (Environments IV) (1972), a performance event that incorporated over two hours of original 16mm nature footage from the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State. The public exhibition of this work, which was premiered in 1972 at Everson Museum in Syracuse, also featured the playback of Niblock’s original musical recordings and live dance by Ann Danoff and Barbara Lloyd.
The film materials themselves were shown on one thirty-six foot wide screen, with three distinct images generated by as many projectors. This large-scale film exhibition produced a moving image triptych in which each projected image was nine-bytwelve feet in scale. An intermedial work of striking sensory magnitude, the live presentation of T H I R represented one of Niblock’s most compelling early experiments in the immersive presentation of film, music, and other media forms. T H I R is one of Niblock’s major films and the foundational project Phill Niblock T H I R VON021 DVD VCS Von Classic Series Edition of 1000 VON Visual and sound explorations vonarchives.com for his shift into a purely observational mode of filmmaking, an approach that would dominate the rest of his career as a moving image artist. In its abbreviated form, the single-screen version of T H I R – which is included on this DVD – runs roughly forty-five minutes and features thirty discrete shots with no repetition. In visual and temporal terms, T H I R is incredibly consistent. Each of its prolonged visual vignettes has an average running time of over one minute, a long take by any standard. This film’s shots of natural detail – including extreme close-ups of leaves, streams, flowers, and crawling ants – evince a deliberate and meticulous compositional sense that produces a rich, nuanced, and sumptuous visual field. Through the selective use of a shallow depth of field, close-up photography, and tight, straightjacket framing, Niblock achieves a textural and visual intimacy that is poetic, elegiac, and classically beautiful.