Quick Questions | Gary James Joynes aka Clinker

In preparation for his upcoming live AV performance of SOUNDBURSTING and Artist Talk Back here at madelife, we asked artist Gary James Joynes aka CLINKER a series of questions to get to the mind of the genius behind his astounding blend of auditory sounds and visual elements.

So to begin, why CLINKER? What does that name mean for you?

Clinker was chosen for a number of reasons, first and foremost it was a word that was used around my house growing up. My Dad was a crane operator at a cement plant and “clinker” is one of the main products used in the making of cement. He would come home from work and say things like… ”I loaded lots of Clinker today” so it was kind of a unique word used in my family. It was a word I had almost forgotten but for some reason came back to mind for me before my first show which was at MUTEK in 2003. When I looked deeper into the word though some interesting themes came together revealing some nice layers. I felt connected directly to the type of sound I was working with. Clinker, as an ingredient, is mixed and milled with other elements and the end result is a product that forms something very strong (ie. concrete). It’s also the high pitched “ping” sound off of a crystal wine glass (a clinker sound). It’s also used as a word to describe a dissonant or “wrong” note in an orchestra. When I looked at all of these things and with personal connection it just seemed like a perfect fit for my experimental sound project.


How would you describe CLINKER to someone new to your work?

Clinker is project name I reserve mostly for my performance practice combining sound and visual elements in Live Cinema performance. The sound and visual elements of Clinker always pulls from a minimalist aesthetic usually with an arc towards an ecstatic moment. The sound is very layered, usually engaging deep bass pulses (hinting at beats) with intricate mid and high frequency tonal movements. The visual elements have always been my own source material abstracted, also very layered and slow moving. My endeavour before working with “cymatics” was to create the phenomenon that the french film theorist Michel Chion called “syncresis”, this being our brains natural tendency to fuse random sound and visual elements that happen simultaneously. The sound and visual become one and the same. Early Clinker shows were all about creating live performance systems where the audio and video were not synchronized and my role as the artist was to create moments of high probability for where theses “magic”moments of AV connection could happen. When I discovered Cymatics my work shifted as I realized there was a science that actually revealed an audio-visual connection that was fused already…

How heavily has previous research into cymatics, the effects of frequency on matter, influenced your current body of work?

Quite frankly when I first discovered the science of cymatics it, blew my mind. But I immediately was curious about what aesthetic “artistic” potential could be mined from the experiments. We have all seen the basic experiments on YouTube, but I wanted to know if I could take this much further and possibly develop my own artistic vocabulary and learn to draw, sculpt and eventually animate with the science. I immediately set out to build my own modern day version of a Chladni plate called a wave driver. I invested heavily into super high quality sine wave oscillators, amps and speakers to hopefully produce something I could consider art. Many speakers have now been sacrificed in what became my process. I feel I have been successful and I am especially grateful for the support I have received for the the whole body of work which has, over the past seven years now, translated into multiple large scale installations, art photography series and performance works.


You art seems to take on new evolutions with each project. In what way do you see your projects adapting to new technologies? Or will they?

I love technology but the choices I make as to what “tech” gets incorporated is always directed by what creative problem am I trying to solve. The question is always what tools are best available to deliver the experience I am trying to create for myself and my audience. I love both digital tools and analog tools and combine them towards the creation of the work.

How did SOUNDBURSTING become a project? And how has it grown?

Soundbursting started with these questions for me… What if we could SEE the moment a sound is created? Imagine this sound moving outward from its source and playing with other sounds… what would we see? This was the idea from which this project emerged.

The approach for creating these “bursts” was a new technique I developed for violently and quickly sending a cymatic tones to my plate machine and recording the results. I then went back and listened to harmonic connections and composed a visual sound score which saw its first showing in an installation work presented in 2012 called Soundbursting No. 1. 
Documentation of this can be viewed here. For the live version Soundbursting (Live AV) I will be presenting on August 4th at madeLife. I took some of these bursted images and combined them with more recent and more complex animations.


Your website mentions that you have no intention of ever retooling your Minimoog Model D synthesizer. What is it about it’s aging sound that you favor for SOUNDBURSTING?

I don’t use my Model D in a typical musical fashion, the keyboard doesn’t work anymore and so I control it using CV (control voltage) via an analog Frostwave sequencer. It’s really difficult to answer this question in words but let’s just say, by leaving this machine to age that way I have, it has a mind of it’s own in some ways. It acts in strange and usual ways that I have grown to embrace and love. It has a particularly unique sound in its low end which I am shining a spotlight on in the Soundbursting “live” show. Some audience members from my recent show at the DAT festival in Missoula told me they felt like my bass frequencies were moving their atoms around and that they could feel that. My favourite comment was from the Elektra Festival in Montreal last year where a guy told me he had never felt and experienced sound in his teeth before 🙂

What happens when the Minimoog, knock on wood, finally breaks?

I already know the tech I will send it to but will ask him to bring it back to life but to a state of near death. LOL.


What makes you happiest as an artist?

Seeing my work resonate in so many people and the opportunities my art is bringing me to travel and meet the best people I have ever met.

What does the future hold for CLINKER?

I intend to work and strive to be creative for as long as this vessel will let me. The future will involve creating more visual sound works, installations and live works. 

I have also recently started a few collaborative projects I am very excited about so you can expect some new audio releases coming in the next year or two as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Gary! 

To stay up to date with Gary’s projects, please visit his website.

And be sure to like Gary on Facebook for lots of juicy information about his performances!

Interview by Gabrielle Haag

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