[Sold Out] Examining Hysteria through 3D Scanning and Performance with Sophie Kahn

Join Tech Resident alum Sophie Kahn in a workshop exploring the library of poses that make up choreography of hysteria, ‘invented’ by Dr. Jean Martin Charcot and Paul Richer at the Salpêtrière asylum in 19th century Paris. Using a handheld 3D laser scanner, participants will scan themselves and each other and learn basic techniques to sculpt the resulting 3D data using free and open source software. Participants will leave with 3D files that they can use in their practices. This workshop is for performers, digital artists, and anyone interested in exploring the intersection of technology and the body. Basic familiarity with 3D modeling programs is preferred but not required.

Sophie Kahn’s work investigates the complexity, and the poetics, of capturing the body in the digital age. She uses a 3D laser scanner to create sculptures, prints, video and digital artworks. This scanner was never designed to capture the human body in motion--when confronted with a moving form, the machine receives conflicting spatial coordinates and generates incomplete images. Kahn converts this deliberately damaged data into the form of prints, videos and hand-painted, 3D printed sculptures. Her fragmented forms draw inspiration from funereal and memorial sculpture, and can read as faux-historical forgeries and/or contemporary relics.

The psychological underpinnings of Kahn’s work are based upon the artist’s personal history of chronic illness and disability. Looking through the lens of medical history, Kahn examines significant moments (e.g. the ‘invention’ of hysteria at the Salpetriere asylum) where older technologies like photography similarly failed to capture the female-identified body and its attendant madnesses. For her sculpture and print series Machines for Suffering, Kahn 3D scanned dancers as they re-enacted the supposed choreography of an attack of hysteria. These works suggest an unstable, monumental, body-as-architecture, under continuous construction -- or perhaps demolition.In all her works, the human body is de-materialized, separated from the physical, and then re-materialized into a vastly altered form. Like many of her contemporaries who also use 3D software and fabrication tools ‘against the grain’, Kahn is interested in situating these modes of seeing within a critical context. Subsequently, the artist challenges standard viewpoints by creating her own subjective, embodied and very human way of seeing through a technological lens.

Date: This one-time in-person workshop meets on Sunday, 12/17 from 1-4PM.

Price: $75

Audience: Open to all.

Materials: Please bring a laptop and/or iPad with Autodesk Meshmixer (free to download). Limited number of computers available upon request.

Accessibility: The class will meet in the 3rd Floor Science Studios, which is not wheelchair accessible. The closest bathroom is a single occupant gender neutral bathroom. Masks are encouraged but not required. ASL and CART are available by request (if possible, please email us one week in advance so we have time to coordinate with our access workers). For access questions, please contact Christina Daniels, christina@pioneerworks.org. For more information about Pioneer Works' accessibility, visit https://pioneerworks.org/visit.

Sophie Kahn is a digital artist and sculptor, whose work addresses technology’s failure to capture the unstable human body. She grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
She earned a BA (Hons) in Fine Art/History of Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London; a Graduate Certificate in Spatial Information Architecture from RMIT University, Melbourne; and an MFA in Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sophie is the co-host of the YouTube channel File Exchange.

Past residencies include the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, VA; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Pioneer Works, Brooklyn; and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York. Sophie has exhibited her artwork in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul. Sophie has taught in the Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute as a Visiting Associate Professor, and at Columbia College, Chicago. 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. Her work is held in public and private collections in the United States and internationally. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts Digital and Electronic Arts Fellow.

Classes at Pioneer Works are made possible by Sandeman Port.

This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.