Artist and author, Douglas Coupland, unveiled his latest project called The National Project at Ottawa Art Gallery, Canada. The work is made up of 1,000 3D printed portraits which were collected over two years.

From 2015 to 2017, artist Douglas Coupland visited nine cities across Canada to take 3D scans of volunteers who lined up at La Maison Simons stores. Called 3DCanada, his work was a collaborative crowdsourced art project and was covered by All3DP back in 2015.

After scanning 1,700 people, Coupland was ready for the final phase of the 3DCanada project. To do this, he and his team 3D printed 1,000 busts of volunteers in a biodegradable plastic filament.

The 3D prints together make up The National Portrait which is now on display at Ottawa Art Gallery. Coupland explains: “This is pretty much what it looked like in my head… I like the fact that you have to walk around it, you have to engage in the third dimension to actually participate in it.”

The aim of The National Portrait was to capture Canada’s spirit in the 21st Century. Coupland adds that the piece has “civility at its core.”

The National Portrait Encourages Viewers to Buy a 3D Printer

At each of the Simons stores, Coupland and his team would ask volunteers to sit still and stare straight ahead for half a minute. Coupland would meet each person he scanned and speak to them for a few minutes.

Coupland recalls one woman who explained why she was lining up by saying: “I just wanted to be part of the future.” Coupland adds: “That was really lovely.

As well as being able to chat to the artist, each participant would also receive a small version of their own 3D printed bust.

For the final installation, Coupland made use of 15 machines and around 70km of biodegradable plastic filament. After the team had scanned enough volunteers, they then spent the next 11 months 3D printing the heads for the installation.

The resulting artwork includes the 1,000 heads all arranged in differing ways, with some slightly distorted. But, all of the heads are brightly colored and face the same direction, “towards both the sun and the future.”

Coupland hopes that his work will inspire others to buy their own 3D printer. He adds: “I’d like people to come away from this and make, make, make.”

The work was commissioned by Simons, but President Peter Simons explains: “The National Portrait is much more than a Simons project. As we traveled from city to city, it quickly became a national piece of art using technology that people were fascinated to experience as they watched their own 3D portraits being printed. Unveiling The National Portrait in the nation’s capital is quite fitting.”

The National Portrait was unveiled on June 29th and will remain at the Ottawa Art Gallery until August 19th. Visit the gallery’s website to find out more.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Douglas Coupland