Phil Dadson is a seminal figure in New Zealand’s art history, both for pushing the boundaries of sound and intermedia art since the 70s with the internationally renowned From Scratch, the subject of two survey exhibitions in 2018; and for his influence on a generation of leading mid-career artists. His highly inventive trans-disciplinary approach encompasses experimental musical instruments and sonic objects, video/sound installation, music composition, graphic scores, drawing, sound sculptures and improv with invented instruments. Video remains a constant passion for Dadson, as it synergistically combines image and sound with a unique physicality (perhaps not so obvious today with technology closing the gap between film and video resolution.)
A member of the founding group for Scratch Orchestra in London, 1969 (with Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons and others), Dadson returned to New Zealand to establish Scratch Orchestra (NZ) and later From Scratch (1974). From Scratch (whose founding members included Bruce Barber, Geoff Chapple and later, Don McGlashan and Wayne Laird), is internationally acknowledged for its legendary performances on original instruments. Such a performance was the subject of Gregor Nicholas’ film ‘Pacific 3-2-1-Zero’, awarded the Croisette d’Or Grand Prix at the Cannes Music Film Awards in 1994, and now included in the Permanent Film Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Dadson continues to exhibit and perform regularly in New Zealand and internationally. Awarded a Fulbright- Wallace Arts Trust Award in 2015, the fruitful residency period in San Francisco continues to reverberate through current performances and album releases. The year also saw the production of two new video works, one for the 56th Venice Biennale and one for WERK/ KUNST/WERK in Kassel, Germany. In 2014 he toured with Taonga Puoro player Rob Thorne and Chilean musician Enrique Siques in X-Current, culminating in a performance at Audio Foundation (Auckland) as part of the S3D Invented Instrument minifest. 2013 brought exhibitions and performances in Chile, Auckland and Christchurch’s Scape 7.
Appointed to the Sculpture Department at Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 1977, Dadson held the position of Head of Intermedia/Time based arts from 1986 – 2001. Throughout his career Dadson has been the recipient of many key awards and fellowships, enabling numerous international residencies, exhibitions and festival opportunities. In 2001 he received a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate award, in 2003 an Antarctic Artist Fellowship and was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2005.
Dadson lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand.