Can you describe the work?
SC: I guess the work is a surrealist, molecular beast with a sense of mystery, of processes one can't quite understand. Perhaps there's an anxious tone to it, like the fear of the unknown. The images Arnont supplied had an other side quality to them, as if they were cells forming in another dimension, maybe a microscopic dimension, or maybe one as wide as a universe, acting/reacting in ways that appear random but with their own hidden logic and purpose. I think the piece is quite abrasive and confronting but there’s a hard-won beauty buried deep in there as well.
What inspired you to create the work? How did it evolve?
SC: Arnont supplied the images and left me to supply the sound. I improvised the guitar on my first full viewing of the film using one of the worst guitar sounds I've ever manufactured.
I still don't know if I like it and it's not something I'd listen to around the house - but I do like the complete randomness of the guitar line and the key changes that don't really make sense, the heaviness and harshness of it all, and the fact that it was an automatic and pure response to the images.
We titled it 20...20 Vision and to me it somehow captured some of the panic and desperation of last year! It was Arnont's idea to put the dots between the 20’s…I like to think it symbolises the physical distance between two people thinking the same thing!
Carter: "There’s tougher gigs in life, but it does require strength, resilience and pigheadedness to make it through."
How did you start collaborating with Arnont?
SC: I was introduced to Arnont in 2019 during my three-month residency at the creative/social hub Bangkok 1899. The residency was a fantastic experience where I met and worked with all manner of Thai artists and musicians.
Three months was a good length of time to make it an immersive experience rather than flitting through as a tourist. I travelled up to Chiang Mai and jammed with Arnont and the memory of us concocting weird noises in the Thai countryside while his mum cooked us a delicious lunch in the next room, is a fond one that will remain with me. Later Arnont came to Bangkok and we played an improvisational show together at the official public opening of Bangkok 1899.
Arnont is an experimental sound artist of the highest order, but he has been tending towards the video side recently and was happy to leave the sound on this project to me.
Shayne and Arnont chatting during Shane's residency at Bangkok 1899
What do you get from collaborating with someone from a different culture – what does it bring to the artistic process that is unique?
SC: It’s hard to qualify that actually. My experience with working with people from other cultures is that the artist’s heart is always the same no matter where you are. You meet these people from apparently wildly different backgrounds and you recognise them, or the essence of them, straight away. That is actually a beautiful and affirming thing that has something to do with the universality of human experience.
The artist’s road is often a difficult and unforgiving one no matter where you are. There’s tougher gigs in life, but it does require strength, resilience and pigheadedness to make it through. Maybe in Asia the value of art is appreciated more because the cultures are older and, in some ways, more grown up.
I do think there’s a general lack of knowledge and awareness of each other’s communities though. Artistic collaboration is a great way to bridge this, to make ourselves more familiar and therefore more comfortable with one another and to celebrate our commonalities and how close to each other we are, both physically and as people.
What would you like a New Zealand audience will take away from the work?
SC: I hope they don’t get scared or flick quickly to the next browser window.
What do you have coming up – any projects in the pipes?
SC: Yeah, I’ve got heaps on. Lots of gigs with bands old and new and writing new music. I wrote a memoir that was quite well received so I’d also like to start another book. I also want to get back to Thailand to jam with my pals!
In 2019 Shayne Carter spent three months as the inaugural artist in residence at creative/civic hub Bangkok 1899 where he immersed himself in local culture and composed and performed with Thai artists. Carter was supported to attend the residency through a grant from CreativeNZ and the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
About the Foundation's IN TOUCH arts commissions
20...20 VISION is one of ten digital art works to be produced through the Foundation's IN TOUCH arts commissions. The commissions were offered to New Zealand arts practitioners who had previously participated in Foundation programmes to develop new works suitable for digital channels and which draw on the artist’s ongoing connections to Asia.