This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Sophie Kahn.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
I'm interested in the unintended emotional resonance created by new imaging technology: the idea of ghostliness or haunting, a lack of life that is present in (specifically) 3D renderings that attempt to capture life.
What is an artist’s responsibility?
While I have tremendous respect for artists whose work engages social practices and changes the face of communities and cities, my work personally engages with more individual and interior concerns. It engages with wider questions in an oblique and poetic way—for example, the violence of technological representation, and the way that an imaging device can capture the female body and the ways in which bodies can resist these attempts at capture. Speaking only for myself, I believe that my responsibility as an artist is to retain sight of the heart of my desire to make art and continue my practice, without being too swayed by trends and the demands of the art market and the art world at large.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
I'm not going to bow to cliché and say my children, although I am proud of them! Instead I'll say the piece that I am proudest of, Triple Portrait of E. This is a 3D-scanned portrait, made from life, and the model is a student from an artist residency and class I taught at Connecticut College. She had the idea to make a “double exposure,” so I scanned her, then she turned her head and I scanned her again, overlaying the scan onto the previous file. The result is a condensed portrait of five minutes of motion. I added a digital “glitch” that infected her eyes and mouth like a polygonal fungus.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
During graduate school I came up with a “paper proposal,” i.e., a proposal for a piece of public art that would never be realized. It was a design for my own tomb. The piece came with an elaborate backstory, with the story being that I was a failed sculptor who never realized any of her large scale works, and that after my death my husband worked with technicians skilled in recovering antique hard drives to piece together this posthumous tribute. It was to be CNC milled in marble and installed in Chicago's Graceland cemetery with a fictitious date, optimistically about 60 years into the future. Fabricating the work would have cost more than an apartment, though, so I didn't actually make it and it only exists as renders and as a 3D-printed maquette:
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
My advisor in graduate school, Claudia Hart, has curated a number of shows featuring artists working with 3D, including The Real Fake 2.0 at the Bronx Art Space in 2016. The section on printed sculpture (for which I wrote an essay) features a number of artists whose work I love, including:
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Sophie Kahn, Periode de Delire II, 2016, 3D printed sculpture, gesso, watercolor, plywood)