Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Music/Sound 2006

Ikue Mori

A side portrait of Ikue Mori in front of a patterned backdrop in earthy yellow and terracotta colors. She has dark shoulder-length hair with bangs.
  • 2006 Grants to Artists
  • Music/Sound
  • Composer, Musician
  • Born Tokyo, Japan, 1953
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information

This grant made it possible to expand my video creating system and finish up a DVD project by adding animation and music. [The grant] also made it possible to start a totally new piece for eight speakers... It has been a very productive year and I appreciate the fact that there's support for an artist like myself.

- Ikue Mori, February 6, 2007

Artist Statement

I am primarily known as a musician who has developed her own unique sound with drum machines and uses it both in compositional and improvisational formats, performing live on laptops with many different musicians.

I think what has always differentiated my work from others using similar technology is the musical community that I have worked in (largely improvised and experimental). These musicians have really pushed me to develop a personal language. Musical personality, sensitivity, great sounds and the ability to interact and react with other musicians are for me what makes music great. The thing is, commercially available drum machines or computers are hardly the obvious paths to this kind of personal musicality. In my work there is a contradictory but rich interplay between (the ideas of) fake and real, between pre-programmed and spontaneous, human and machine. Ultimately I want to make music that comes from within and not something that is merely technologically impressive.

- December 2005


Ikue Mori moved from Tokyo to New York in 1977. She started playing drums and soon formed the generative no-wave band DNA with Arto Lindsay. In the mid 1980s Mori started to employ drum machines in the context of improvised music. Since the 1990s, she has collaborated with musicians and artists throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, while continuing to produce and record her own music. Beginning in 2000, Mori started using a laptop computer to expand her vocabulary; not only playing sounds, but creating and controlling the visual work as well.

Mori's published solo recordings include Garden (1996), Labyrinth (2001)and Myrninerest (2005)Her 2006 Grants to Artists award supported her project Kibyoshi, a multi-speaker piece. In 2007, The Tate Modern commissioned Mori to create a live soundtrack for screenings of Maya Deren's silent films. Mori's collaborations with artists include Mephista with Sylvie Courvoisier and Susie Ibarra, Phantom Orchard Ensemble with Zeena ParkinsKibyoshi with Koichi Makigami and Mark Nauseef; and projects with John Zorn and Kim Gordon.

Commissioners of Mori's work include the Montalvo Arts Center, Südwestrundfunk German radio program, Relâche, the Mary Flagler Charitable Trust, and Sharjah Art Foundation in United Arab Emirates.Prior to her 2006 Grants to Artists award, Mori had received a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction (1999), a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship (2000), and she participated in the Ucross Foundation Residency Program (2005).

Mori has lectured and taught workshops at institutions including the University of Gothenburg, Dartmouth College, the New Music Conservatory at Mills College, and Stanford University.

FCA-supported Kibyoshi, animation and music by Mori, 2011.
A projection of an illustrated Japanese dancing figure floating on top of mountain ranges in white and terracotta colors. Ikue Mori is situated below the projected screen, showing the side profile of her head.
Performance still of FCA-supported Kibyoshi, 2011.
A monochromatic line drawing of a Japanese ancient figure collaged onto a black background. They hold a bowl of liquid and blow bubbles towards the upper left side with a tube. The differently sized bubbles are formed with rings of saturated pink, blue, turquoise, green, and black colors.
Source material for the animation of FCA-supported Kibyoshi, 2011.
A colored line drawing of a Japanese buddhist deity with ten hands against a white background. They sit cross-legged on a white and lavender color lotus set on top of a black and brown pedestal.
Source material for the animation of FCA-supported Kibyoshi, 2011.
A colored line drawing of two ladies and one man dressed in traditional Japanese wear. On the right, the man lies on his stomach and rests his cheeks on his hands. One lady sits behind him and supports her chin with her left hand. They both look towards the other lady on the left who carries a couple of amputated partial arms. In the background, there are two Japanese folding screens, one in beige color and the other in a gradient color toned with blue, yellow, and red.
Source material for the animation of FCA-supported Kibyoshi, 2011.
A monochromatic line drawing of a group of people dressed in traditional Japanese wear split into two rectangular frames. The two main characters on the left frame are on their knees, looking up towards the other two main characters sitting on an elevated platform on the right frame. A series of Japanese letters are written vertically on the upper right corner of each frame.
Source material for the animation of FCA-supported Kibyoshi, 2011.
A black and white photograph of Ikue Mori working with electronic music sets on a table. A projection of pixelated patterns is shown in the background.
Mori in performance.