I originally trained as a photographer, and although now I largely work with sculpture, I remain interested in the same questions I once explored through photography: questions of time, history, memory, and the body. The foundation of all my work is the 3D laser scanner, but this precisely engineered device was never designed to capture the body, which is always in flux. When a person moves, or breathes, the scanner generates fragmentary results.
When I first scanned my face, I noticed that my face on the screen — drained of color and movement — resembled a death mask. I started making sculptural death masks from these scans. I wanted to make more, but at the time digital fabrication was challenging. It wasn’t until companies such as Shapeways arrived and 3D printing software became accessible, that I was truly able to take a hand in the creation of my work.
In graduate school, I started making larger pieces, and casting them in bronze and clay. I wanted to engage with art history through materiality and through references to memorial sculpture. I am interested in how technology can fail to capture life, and what the poetics of that failure might look like.
Sophie Kahn earned a BA (Honors) in Fine Art/History of Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and an MFA in Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited her artwork in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul. Her video work has been screened in festivals including Transmediale, Zero1 San Jose Biennial, Dance Camera West, and the Japan Media Arts Festival. She has taught in the Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute as a Visiting Associate Professor. Her work has been supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic, and other private funding bodies. She was a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts Digital and Electronic Arts Fellow. Recent residencies include the Museum of Arts and Design, and NARS, both in New York City.