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Sophie Kahn
Brooklyn, NY

ARTIST STATEMENT: "Every point of contact between a body and its media extension marks the site of some secret burial." - Laurence Rickels, Aberrations of Mourning My work addresses the resonances of death in the still image. It owes its fragmented aesthetic to the interaction of new and old media, and the collision of the body with imaging technology. I combine cutting-edge means of reproduction, like 3d laser scanning and 3d printing, with ancient bronze casting techniques. Using damaged 3d data, I create sculptures and video works that resemble de-constructed monuments or memorials.  The precise 3d scanning technology I use was never designed to capture the body, which is always in motion. When confronted with a moving body, it receives conflicting spatial coordinates, generating a 3d ‘motion blur’. From these scans, I create videos or 3d printed molds for bronze sculptures. The resulting sculptures bear the artifacts of all the digital processes they have been though. The scanning and 3d printing process strips color and movement from the body, leaving behind only traces of its form – a scan of the face resembles nothing more than a digital death mask. I scan my own body frequently, but what I end up with is a series of digital doppelgangers with a (n after-) life of their own. These scans, realized as life-size 3d printed statues and installed in darkened rooms as a damaged ancient artifact might be, serve as a incomplete memorials to the body as it moves through time and space.  I work with this deathly imagery not because I want to be morbid, but because I am interested in the ways that technology can fail to capture life – and what the poetics of that failure might look like.

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Body/Traces (USA/Spain) was an EMPAC Dance Movies commission for 2008-9, supported by the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts - Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA.

Body/Traces is a digital stop-motion 3d animation composed of thousands of 3d laser scans, made with a DIY laser scanner made from LEGO.

It is designed to be shown projected in a darkened room for a small number of visitors, with the dancer at life-size and the video on a continuous loop.

Co-directors: Sophie Kahn and Lisa Parra Choreographer: Lisa Parra New media artist: Sophie Kahn Dancers: Lisa Parra and Tina Vasquez Sound: Sawako Kato Editor: Lisa Parra Editing assistance: Silvia Zaya Serra Engineering assistance: David Barrett-Kahn

ARTIFACT THE LEROY NEIMAN CENTER GALLERY MAY 9–JUNE 7 An exhibition by Sophie Kahn Chicago, IL May 9, 2013 The exhibition contains 4 life-sized 3d printed sculptures. At first glance, they appear to be a collection of fragmented ancient relics. But on closer inspection, they are revealed to be portraits of the living artist, made not in marble but in 3d printed plastic. The word artifact refers to both the archaeological associations of the sculptures, and the digital glitches they contain. The artist deliberately misuses a precisely engineered laser scanner, to generate glitch or 3d 'motion blur'. She scans her own body, subtly moving while holding the scanner, to generate conflicting spatial coordinates. She then breaks down the data further while digitally 'sculpting' the fragmented scans. Lastly, she has the 3d files fabricated on a large 3d printer. These works were made by Shapeways. Kahn has been using 3d scanning and 3d printing in her work since 2003, and in these sculptures she has pushed the technology to its limits. Kahn's work explores the ways that technology can misunderstand the body, and fail to capture life. Her work is inspired by her background as a photographer and by a love of cemetery and memorial sculpture. For Kahn, each sculpture is an incomplete, deconstructed memorial. She is interested in the eeriness of digital duplication, and the idea of the uncanny valley: as digital technologies get closer to capturing a perfect human likeness, the resulting objects become eerier and more disturbing, more reminiscent of death than of life. Populated with series of Kahn’s digital doppelgangers, Artifact presents an imagined future archive where once-living bodies are scanned and immortalized in a permanent state of digital suspension.

Sophie Kahn gave a lightning talk at the Leaders in Software and Art Conference, LISA2012, held on October 16th at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Additional photos available at Learn more about Sophie at Conference produced by Isabel Walcott Draves. Video by Karmalize Productions and Blind Escrow Productions. Thanks to the Guggenheim AV team including Norman Proctor, Michael Lavin, Stephanie Gatton and Josh Young. Copyright 2012 Leaders in Software and Art @softwareandart Creative Commons licensed for free non-commercial use with required attribution.


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