We spoke to Kaigani Turner aka Kai, Generative Artist, MeebitsDAO Creator, web3 Advisor and OG.Art ambassador about his career going from Sony Pictures and Netflix to launching successful NFT projects, and about the future of blockchain and AI.
— You introduce artists to generative art and help them create NFT collections. Why do you do this and what is your mission?
When I emerged as a generative artist, I had already been deeply involved in the NFT space since 2017. While using this new medium was a natural progression for me, I could see how daunting it was to many of my artist friends, so I began to advise and mentor them. I wanted to demystify generative art, and make it accessible to artists to work naturally in their own style.
My mission is to ensure that artists are able to participate as early adopters in what will be a hugely transformative period in the history of art – where digital art becomes a first class citizen in the art world, and our experience of art becomes increasingly shaped through digital channels. The early adopters will benefit the most from this transformation, and I want to see that this movement is inclusive of artists around the world – particularly artists from traditionally underrepresented groups.
— You've been actively involved in the NFT community since 2017. How would you describe the changes that have taken place in the crypto community during this time, and how do you imagine the future of crypto art?
In the beginning, the NFT community had no real expectation of quick financial gains, so most of us were in it because we were excited to experiment with the technology and we could see what might be done with it in the future. I think people doing things purely for the sake of art and experimentation are harder to find these days, and communities expect a lot more from projects – they’re less forgiving of trial & error because there is more value wrapped up in projects these days.
I think the future of crypto art is simply – art. I think everything will be tokenized. Even if the art exists as a physical piece, collecting and trading will still be facilitated by crypto transactions.
— How would you describe blockchain as an artistic medium? What are its main features?
What I love about the blockchain as a medium is that it makes the act of creation into a performance – in the sense that the viewer/collector participates in the genesis of the artwork and they can create a unique piece of art, based on the intention of the artist.
In addition to this aspect of the art itself, you have blockchain features like ownership and provenance which have made it possible for people to collect digital art for the first time–it has enabled digitally native art ‘artifacts’ that exist as atomic objects with proven authenticity. You really can’t understate the importance of that.
— The NFT market is going through a crisis now. How have you experienced it, and what is your prognosis?
Having been through multiple market cycles, I’d hardly characterize it as a crisis. I take the long view on what is happening to the $65 billion art market. I think ahead 30 years to when you’ll have the majority of art collectors having grown up with Tik Tok and the blockchain. I don’t think that looks anything like the art world we experience today, and I’m obsessed with forecasting that future. I’m not worried about 2 years of a slow NFT market.
— You are an advisor to multiple web3 companies. What are the main difficulties these companies face, and how do you help overcome them?
The companies I advise also take a long view of the economy and they focus on web3 within the broader context of the industries they serve. Web3 isn’t an industry, it’s a transformative innovation. You need to have a clear business model and thesis for how things will progress.
A lot of my projects are in media & entertainment, and they face the same challenges as any other project in media & entertainment, but web3 gives us more tools in our toolbelt.
— You worked for established companies like Sony Pictures and Netflix but left for more experimental, less secure fields like NFT and crypto. Why did you do it?
I’ve worked for big companies, start-ups, non-profits, digital agencies… really the consistent through-line in my career is that I’m always interested in being at the edge of innovation. Sometimes I’m too far ahead of the curve, like when I was leading an innovation lab to make printed electronics years before iPhones could interact with the technology.
I’ve been watching and waiting for the NFT/crypto mainstream watershed moment, and I saw that happen in 2021 when suddenly you were hearing about Top Shot and NFTs in the news. Even though everyone expected a market downturn to soon follow, I saw this happen to the market previously in 2018, and I realized that now is the time to build for the next cycle.
— Will blockchain technology and NFTs change the world music industry?
Blockchain technology and crypto will become deeply embedded in most industries. It will be mostly mundane when it happens. You’ll subscribe for your music streaming service via crypto, you’ll get concert tickets that are actually NFTs, you’ll join fan clubs that are DAOs – only no one will call them that. In terms of true innovation, I think there could be interesting things that happen around royalties and profit-sharing, but in terms of something big around the corner for music – AI will have a much greater impact on how music is created.
Blockchain technology is the unevenly distributed future that already exists (to paraphrase William Gibson) – we’re just starting to get glimpses of what the AI-enabled future will be – that’s what you need to keep your eye on.
— Some crypto enthusiasts worry that the metaverse may become a super consumeristic space occupied by corporations treating people as products. How do you envision the relations between people and commercial companies in the metaverse?
With [ mxtter ], we connect artists from around the world with brands who want to work with us. We want to create opportunities for artists so they can participate equitably in the growth of the economy and the industry.
I think the promise of web3 is absolute transparency when it comes to how individuals and corporations interact with each other, within the accepted practices of the greater community – a.k.a. the social layer. Also, we now have the means of protecting our data from the abuses we’ve all become aware of in web2. If the metaverse is short-hand for the interoperable ecosystem around our digital selves – I’m optimistic that we can create a better system than the one that exists today.