Clinton Green (b.1972) is an Australian experimental artist and performer. He works with prepared/hacked turntables, found objects, and projections.
To describe or label Clinton Green and his work is difficult as he is akin to a renaissance-man or polymath. Inventor, environmental sound artist, musician, spoken word artist and physical/visual theatre maker, are all fields of endeavour he investigates…He is continually engaged in a dialectic conversation between himself and the world that surrounds him, his art is a product of that conversation – Paul W. Blackman, “An Artist Walks Through A Doorway: an approach to liminal theatre” (May 2018).
Clinton Green makes something akin to music. He has been active in Australian experimental music since the 1990s as a recording and performing artist, curator, facilitator, writer and researcher. He has worked with unconventional approaches to guitars, turntables and found objects as tools for new forms of musical expression. He also works with dancers, theatre and performance artists in improvised collaborative situations, and has developed a performance practice incorporating projections. Clinton runs the Shame File Music label and writes on/researches historical and contemporary aspects of Australian experimental music. He has completed artist residencies in Taiwan (2015) and Cradle Mountain, Tasmania (2017), and has performed/exhibited in Canada, Germany, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, and throughout Australia. His current interests and pursuits include: interdisciplinary site specific performance; turntable-based sound sculpture; multi-disciplinary group improvisation.
I grew up in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, and cut my musical teeth on the local hardcore punk scene. A self-taught (and limited) guitarist, I played in bands including KAOS (1990-1), Punchbag (1991-3) and Kill (mid-1990s). In different ways, each band had more noisier or post-rock aspects/ambitions, but were mostly standard rock/punk outfits. I also played bass in NeTE (1993-4), a more adventurous project that took in industrial and gothic music. I co-founded a fanzine based on the local scene called M4, which published 17 issues from 1990-5, and began the nascent Shame File Music label and mailorder (1991-present day). I later left the music of punk behind, but the DIY values of self-production and community held fast.
I started recording ambient/noisy guitar experiments around 1991, initially with a walkman before moving to a 4-track portastudio. I began releasing these recordings under the moniker of Undecisive God, with the first tape released in 1994 on Shame File Music. As my live band activities peetered out, this home recording project steadily became my musical focus. I started performing the odd live solo gig of this material around the turn of the century, but these were relatively rare outings.
During the 2000s, I developed a focus on releasing Australian experimental music of historical significance on Shame File music, including the online reissue of the NMATAPES (2006), soundtracks by Arthur Cantrill (Chromatic Mysteries CD in 2010, and the Hootonics LP later in 2014), and most significantly, the Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music: 1930-1973 compilation (2007, followed by Volume 2 in 2010). Both Artefacts releases have become key documents in understanding Australian experimental music, and were also touchstones in developing my own practice.
It was around this time that I started working with record players and playing broken record shards layered on top of each other. Initially, I thought of this type of preparation as an ‘improvising machine’, where the stylus jumped at random from one record shard to another, chaotically snatching arhythmic samples of different musics, whilst I improvised alongside on guitar. In retrospect I can see now that I had come to the end of my journey with guitar, and was growing increasingly disillusioned with it as an instrument, and very soon it fell away entirely. By 2010, my releases were primarily focused on turntables. Recognising a visual aesthetic in their use and preparation, I began to perform live with turntables more regularly around Melbourne. Not only was I playing shards of broken records, but also placing objects on the platter such as rocks, screw, foil and cardboard. Influenced by the work of Ernie Althoff, I began exploring ‘acoustic turntables’, where the sonic results of the objects on the platter being struck was bought to the fore. Incorporating suspensions, multiple turntables and mounted percussion instruments alongside found objects, turntables became kinetic sound sculptures for me, with increased possibilities for performative and visual aesthetics. By 2012, I had also stopped using the Undecisive God moniker and started performing and recording under my own name.
A series connections made around 2014 with artists who would go on to be key collaborators, opened up new vistas in interdisciplinary performance and improvisation for me. Among these included performing with THIS Ensemble (an interdisciplinary large form improvisation collective convened by Ren Walters), the formation of Moe Chee (a performance, and later recording duo, with Taiwanese dancer/performing artist, Chun-liang Liu), and working on theatre productions with Elnaz Sheshgelani. These new partnerships and interactions lead to what in retrospect was a breakthrough year, artistically speaking. In 2015, Moe Chee staged the landmark 7 day site specific event, End of April, Beginning of May, that pushed the limits of my understanding of performance and public space, which was followed by a residency and tour in Taiwan. THIS Ensemble presented several durational events/happenings, including improvised performances over a number of hours, and tours/explorations of remote and regional Australia. And I was part of two of theatre productions by Elnaz Sheshgelani, including a two week season of The Birds Conference at La Mama Theatre. Away from my own music, I co-produced and co-hosted Improv Idol with Carmen Chan, an improvisation talent show/Situationist experiment.
I built on these collaborations over the next few years, and spent some time musing over my own performance practice and digesting the lessons I’d learnt during the 2014/5 explosion of creative activity. Although my performances and recording output still focused on turntables a lot of the time, I began to explore a performance practice using text and theatricality, with the aim of broadening the creative experience beyond the usual confines of stage and performance space, for both audiences and myself. Working with Moe Chee and THIS Ensemble also awakened a strong interest in site-specific performance and non-traditional performance environments.
In 2017/18, I took several months off my day job and dedicated myself to music and creative practice fulltime. This intensive period included a residency at Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania, where I worked on new ideas involving projections and prepared turntables in remote locations. I performed in Germany, Spain, Japan and Taiwan during this period, exploring this new AV live set-up in a variety of situations. I also established a studio space that is giving me more freedom to develop ideas with complex kinetic turntable-based structures, and further explore the element of projections in performance. I am currently working on several upcoming site-specific performances, and a number of new albums of work recorded during my 2017/18 sabbatical, both solo an in collaboration with others.