KVG Exclusive Interview with Espen Kluge

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Espen Kluge is a polymath of renaissance proportions: a composer, a visual artist, and a creative coder. 

We at Kate Vass Galerie are thrilled to share this exclusive short interview with a known Norwegian digital artist: Espen Kluge. We thought that it would be a good idea to introduce Espen to the blockchain community and ask him a few questions around some interesting themes such as the creative and technical process behind his work, the blockchain art environment from the artist’s perspective and much more.

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His unique generative portrait series ‘Alternatives’ was exhibited for the first time at Kate Vass Galerie in Zurich last year in a successful solo show. Kluge’s 100 portraits display the full range of the human condition. This is especially remarkable when you consider that Kluge is working in the genre of generative art, often criticized for being cold, geometric, and esoteric. Espen gives generative art a new direction with work that is warm, universally approachable, and equally accessible to both the heart and the mind. 

The Interview

Kate Vass Galerie: We know you are an eclectic: a composer, a visual artist, and a creative coder. How did you end up doing generative art?

Espen Kluge: It was a gradual process. I did a lot of digital art in 3D and in 2D for some years, but I became interested in programming through an idea I had as a composer. After learning a programming language called Objective-C, I found that I could start using my programming skills to assist me in creating visual work. So I did, and it evolved from that point on.

KVG: We had the pleasure to feature your exclusive series ‘Alternatives’ in the solo show at our gallery last year. Please let us know, what is the creative – and technical, for more experienced users- process behind these 100 unique generative portraits? 

Espen Kluge at the opening night of his solo show @ KVG

EK: All of the 100 works are generated in Javascript and rendered in a browser. The script is a crudely yet lovingly coded document that I started in 2013 as an attempt to create an interactive logo for my experimental website, but never started using it for making art before 2018. Technically it’s not very complex, but I’ve spent a very long time tuning my algorithm to make it generate images that are interesting and unique, not just lines generated with certain intervals. That tuning process is the fun part.

I have recently ported and further developed the code in Processing. Adding support for multiple frames and even putting in data related to the Z-axis, giving me the opportunity for working with this in 3D. 

KVG: How do you like being now in this digital art environment? 

EK: I don’t think about where I belong as an artist, and try to follow my ideas to new places, that might be part of the reason why I operate within multiple disciplines. But in terms of visual art, the digital art landscape is my home. And it’s such an interesting place in the art world right now, it’s great.

KVG: Talking about digital, what do you think about blockchain as a tool to showcase, sell and collect the artworks?

EK: It’s changing the art world. It’s ridiculous how well suited blockchain technology is in terms of providing security and clarity for the artists and collectors. I am happy that there are good people involved that see this and create relevant services.

KVG: Some portraits from the ‘Alternatives’ series have been minted on two different blockchain platforms: Superrare and Opensea. Do you feel these two platforms play different roles in the blockchain art market?

EK: They must do, considering Opensea is a market for a larger category of digital stuff, and Superrare specializes in art that is rare. I’m really fascinated to see where these platforms will be in the future.

KVG: 10 of your cryptoworks (NFTs) are now featured in a brand new exhibition in Virtual Reality:  “giving normal people abnormal experiences”, which you can experience on decentralized land of  SomniumSpace at M○C△- Museum of Crypto Art. How was your experience within this new context?

Espen Kluge artwork as featured in his solo show @ KVG

EK: Great! It’s my first time having a decentralized exhibition, and seeing how it turned out, and the response to it, I think that it’s a concept that it set to gain more and more traction.

KVG: Apart from blockchain, selected works are also available as beautiful prints. Is there a difference for you in the way one can appreciate and experience your work digitally or physically?

EK: When I started creating the first works from “alternatives”, my default thought was that I couldn’t wait to see them on print. But after seeing both print and screen together in the same physical space in the exhibition last year, I’m enjoying both equally much, for different reasons which I would have a hard time explaining. 

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KVG: What is challenging you the most from a creative perspective? And what is your current focus?

EK: My biggest frustration has always been my lack of ability to organize my thoughts while creating art, this is not a good thing when programming. But that also provides me with more “happy accidents”, usually a bad thing to have in your code, I have a love/hate relationship with them.

I’m now focusing on several projects, a piano album that I started in January last year which I’m hoping to finally finish recording and release in the fall. I`m creating some new generative portraits, and I’m also experimenting with portraiture using embroidery, also based on generative processes.

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KVG: If you have any fun fact about you as an artist or about your work, please share! We’re sure the audience would be happy to know.

EK: As a composer I create music by improvising, and build the composition by finding parts in my improvisation that works. When working with code, it’s a lot harder to improvise. That’s why I try to write my algorithms by experimenting with math that I don’t necessarily understand. It’s all about trying to generate imagery that surprises me. If that makes any sense.

KVG: Thank you, Espen. We are glad to work with you! 

Selected works are now available as NFTs on the blockchain, both on SuperRare and OpenSea

10 cryptoworks are also featured in a brand new exhibition in Virtual Reality:  “giving normal people abnormal experiences”; the name of the exhibition inherited the name of one of the self-titled artworks which you can experience on decentralized land of  SomniumSpace parcel 1047 at M○C△- Museum of Crypto Art. You can see more about this immersive experience here.

Interview Courtesy of Kate Vass Galerie and Espen Kluge. All rights reserved.

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Kate Vass Galerie

Kate Vass Galerie is the first physical gallery in the world, headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, which specialises in art and technology (blockchain, crypto, AI).

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