A Conversation with Kalman

Kalman Pool completed his BFA at School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019, followed by his MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in London in 2021. Concurrently, he attended the Swatch Art Peace Hotel as artist-in-residence and was invited to design his very own Swatch X You watch.

Inspired by “BioArt” and natural history, Pool’s interdisciplinary works examine the dialectical relationship between virtual and physical, reconciling both by means of fantastically fashioning VR-made, bio-mutated phantasms, inflatable effigies, and creative pictographic language pieces.

Pool participated in numerous art galleries in China, Europe, and the United States. His solo expressions include “Mutation” at the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing and “New Tales Retold” at the IAG Gallery in Shanghai. Currently, Pool’s solo exhibition is being held at the Jupiter Museum of Art in Shenzhen, China. This exhibition showcases his recent progress from conceptual VR development, factory fabrication, and 2D painting over the last several years.

A Conversation with Kalman

Q: How would you describe yourself as an artist and how do you typically describe your work?

A: I used to describe myself as an idealistic visionary, in that I always try to invent the “new,” perhaps creating new beings that never existed before. In that sense, my works can be futuristic and ambiguous, interesting or uncanny, lovely and lively, all at the same time.

Q: What are your working methods? What first drew you to making work about, on, and for the internet?

A: My working method is pretty much autonomous and spontaneous. Take the VR sculpture for example, oftentimes I do not sketch before I create and instead, I just go with the flow. Yet, I do have some sort of intuition in terms of basic color palette or general form at the very beginning. Overall, my process is pretty intuitive; sometimes the outcome can be great and surprising, but sometimes, as an artist, the process and end-result can be quite frustrating.

I started my whole art career with the internet, or more precisely, the birth of Instagram in 2013, when I was 17 years old, a year before I started college. I was using lots of iPhone filter apps and photoshop filters. Eventually, I re-created tons of graphic and psychedelic imagery with the help of these digital filters. “The BnR Collection,” which you can find at the bottom of my Instagram page, was my debut in internet art. That collection was targeted for online exhibition and even at that time (and especially now) Instagram had already become the largest and most influential platform for internet art. In fact, recently I received a number of exhibition opportunities both online and offline directly from Instagram!

Q: Why did you get started in the NFT space? How long have you been doing NFT artwork?

A: I actually didn’t get into NFT art until very recently. Back in 2013, I began hearing about Bitcoin and I used to (temporarily) own a few bitcoins back then, because at the time, the price of one Bitcoin was only about $500. But, as it goes, things got crazy and I ended up selling all of my digital currency in 2014. Back to NFTs, I started doing NFT artwork officially only a few months ago but I’ve been creating VR digital sculptures since 2018, and as I mentioned above, I started creating digital artwork in 2013 so it’s been almost 8 years!

Q: What’s next from an NFT art perspective? What is one piece of advice you would give to other aspiring NFT artists?

A: I believe the next frontier in art will be the support of other types of media; as of now, NFT art is limited to 2D images and 4D videos. Yet, with the advent of 3D models, I envision innumerable possibilities. Of course, with increasingly matured VR/AR technology, there will be more user-friendly features coming soon, not only for artists but also for collectors, as well.

One piece of advice I would give would be: stay curious, always try to push boundaries, and most importantly, aim to challenge the impossible!

Q: Do you have any non-art related aspirations in life?

A: Well, maybe I would say Buddhism. Because I am a Buddhist, I visit various temples across the world and performing daily rituals has become very inspirational to me.

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