Polish-born composer and experimental musician Zbigniew Karkowski was born in Krakow on 14 March 1958 and studied composition in Sweden at Gothenburg State College of Music. He also studied aesthetics of modern music and computer music. There were further studies in sonology at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Den Haag, and also summer masterclasses in composition, where he was able to study with Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and Georges Aperghis.
His music includes acoustic and electroacoustic pieces, and he he was commissioned by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to write several pieces for large orchestra. He also wrote various items of chamber music and an opera.
He founded Sensorband, an electroacoustic performance trio, with Edwin van der Heide and Atau Tanaka, in which he played an instument by moving his arms around in space, cutting beams of infrared light to produce sound.
At the end of his life, the much-travelled Karkowski lived and worked in Tokyo, taking an active part in that city's underground noise scene.
He died of pancreatic cancer on 12 December 2013, aged only fifty-five.