In Conversation with Kaigani Turner (kai) cover photo


In Conversation with Kaigani Turner (kai)

by Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis: Hi Kai, it’s nice to speak with you. How did you first get into making art?
Kaigani Turner: I’ve been sketching and drawing since I can remember. In my early school days, I had an art teacher who had left her student’s work out during a gallery exhibition of her own work, and she told me that someone had asked to buy it—so I suppose that was the first time I thought of my creative expression as art. For the most part though, design is what I do publicly and art is what I do privately
Kai Turner, Random Walks_border.png
Kaigani Turner, Random Walks, n.d.
JD: When did you start exploring computers as a creative medium?
KT: Coding has always been a hobby of mine and I got my degree from Stanford in computer science, but I’ve never wanted to be a professional coder; I have always been more interested in what the code enables. I’ve been inspired by artists/designers like John Maeda to use code to create the image you have in your mind, but also I like that randomly generated creations can surprise the creator. I would typically create generative art for myself, and occasionally post them, but until recently I never thought of publishing my generative art.
JD: How did you discover NFTs/crypto art?
KT: I was fascinated by the market dynamics of cryptocurrency, so I studied that for a while, and I’d been following a lot of the Ethereum forums on Reddit. One day I caught the flu and was stuck in bed for a few days, and I saw the forums were buzzing about this new thing about to launch called CryptoKitties. Since I had the flu, I had a few days to obsess over it, and eventually latched on to the puzzle of how they were encoding the gene sequences. Eventually I cracked the code and got swept up into this community that would eventually branch out into other NFTs and help define the space. I followed the more cutting-edge experimental work that folks like AlxoNate, and Jim have been doing because I was interested in the blockchain as a medium.
JD: How has your creative practice changed over time?
KT: As I get older, I’m able to put my work into the perspective of my life. Professionally, I have a fairly well defined creative practice—and I see creativity as something to foster and nurture. I think when you’re younger you just expect a spark of inspiration to hit you magically.
Kaigani Turner, 27-Bit Digital #0, 2021.
JD: Alright, so what was the mindset behind your Art Blocks project?
KT: For 27-Bit Digital, I’ve realized how much of it is autobiographical, in terms of the early influences that first got me into using computers. Also in thinking about numbers and bit sequences—which was the reason why I was able to crack the CryptoKitties code. I’ve written a lengthy blog post about my influence, but in addition to that, art-on-chain reminds me of the limitations we faced in the early home computing days. We’re back to facing memory constraints and we need to optimize our code again. It seemed fitting to revisit the graphics and displays of that era.
JD: What should collectors look for in your Art Blocks project as the series is revealed?
KT: What also excites me about this project is that the glyphs and patterns are defined by uniform random distribution—whether you see a number or letter as a glyph, or a checkerboard as a pattern, these are all emergent properties. I’m interested to see if people will try to collect pieces that look like faces, or that are symmetrical or will try to spell their name or birth year. It’s entirely up to the community.
JD: Thanks for the chat! What’s the best way for people to follow your work?
KT: You can follow me on Twitter at @kaigani.
First published 17 February 2021:

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