Sam Cannon, Thinking About Getting Into 3D


When Sam Cannon posted a derivative, 3D rendering of a generic femme nude on Instagram with the caption “thinking about getting into 3D,” I thought it was a strange statement from her. Why was she announcing she was learning 3D modeling? We were in the midst of an NFT-booming, post-pandemic Spring, and I was really starting to loathe those expressionless, plastic people. I hoped Cannon’s video art, which drew me in with its fragmented footage of real human bodies, wasn’t turning into that.

It wasn’t. This was the beginning of a one-of-a-kind performance art piece commenting on the state of the female form and its value in digital spaces. “Thinking About Getting Into 3D” was shared as a series of posts across social media platforms, documenting Cannon’s transformation into a 3D model –– a digital sculpture that can be viewed from all sides on a computer.


Sam Cannon, Thinking About Getting Into 3D


During the first days of online performance, Cannon’s posts revealed behind-the-scenes images of her wearing a bald cap while a makeup artist painted her gray from head to toe. She was erasing herself physically into an expressionless avatar, a virtual non-person. The result was frightening, uncanny. I couldn’t wait to see what would come next.

The final phase of the performance revealed images of a technician 3D scanning Cannon’s matte gray body, compiling the scans into a 3D software program on a computer, then using a 3D printer to assemble miniature plastic figurines.

“A big part of the critique was around the tools we use to make 3D art, and what they do for our understanding of representation and value,” Cannon told me.*


Sam Cannon, Thinking About Getting Into 3D


As a digital artist navigating the surreal shifts between real life, internet, and now metaverse, I’m drawn to art that critiques that shifting terrain. Computer-generated art has molded people -– particularly women -– into less and less realistic forms. Like Cannon, I’ve struggled with the instinct to airbrush my own body in my self-portrait work. We consume the bodies we see in our hypnotic scrolling states, then become them.

The performance lasted five days, with thirty posts in total. Screenshots of the online audience reactions are part of the final piece. The 3D models were auctioned on the exclusive NFT site Superrare, where winning bidders claimed the file, and the miniature figurines. In an absurd way, they own Cannon’s body. She says it was hard to part with.


*Author’s conversation with the artist Sam Cannon, July 28, 2022


Marissa Sher, Easter Sale, 2022, Video Collage, 00:11 loop, 4K


Marissa Sher is a Brooklyn-based writer and video artist. She builds sculptures from found and upcycled objects, then uses a combination of mechanical, projection, and visual effects techniques to film and composite them. Sher holds a B.A. from Barnard College in New York City where she studied art history, visual arts, and dance. Her digital art has been featured at Now Here Gallery, CADAF Paris, CADAF NYC, and in collections by ART POINT and Infinite Objects. Her work is also featured in CHANGE, aboard the National Geographic Endurance.