studies for torso

digital photography

chromogenic prints

a crowd of oneself

twelve 3-dimensional whole body laser scans, digital sculpture



mean body (as in standard) is a performance document and database of surface anthropometric data sets (3D body shape scans) that I created while a guest artist with the National Research Council of Canada (2001-2003 and 2004-2006).

Inspired by study of established human body databases such as the Visible Human Project(1) and CAESAR(2), I embarked on a performative process to establish my own body shape a baseline for scientific research.  This gesture was motivated to critically engage with certain oppressive cultural notions of normal, standard and average that have prevailed in the colonialist west, especially since the birth of anthropology, ethnography and photographic technologies.

After eight months of intensive body training to achieve my idealized body shape, I worked with a 3D whole body laser scanner to capture over 80 variations of my 40 year old multiracial body geometry. The resulting mean body database is a decidedly subjective collection of surface anthropometric data sets posed in art historically inspired postures. My formal relationship with the NRC was completed with the licensing of the mean body database to the Institute for Information Technology to support research of human body shape variability.

Since I started my body shape database project in 2001, I have completed nine artworks derived from my shape data. These include conceptual works of digital sculpture, photography, video animation and installation. The figurative pieces document the conceptual and technical evolution from representation into abstraction through graphical and algorithmic software processes. the chimaera set explores hybridity – hybrid bodies, hybrid life forms, hybrid processes. I created this series of otherworldly body fragments by interpreting language metaphors common to critical theory and computation.

The specific intention of the chimaera set is to engage critically with ethical implications of bio medical research, while the mean body database addresses the study of the human body in general.

1. The Visible Human Project® is a complete anatomically detailed, 3 dimensional representation of the “normal” male and female human bodies. It is directed by the American National Library of Medicine and managed by the Center for Human Simulation at the University of Colorado.  The Visible Human Project® is the standard or atlas against which all magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data is indexed for visualization (deformation of atlas processing).

2. The Civilian American and European Surface Anthropometry Resource (CAESAR) is an American Air Force database representing in 3 dimensions, the anthropometric variability of civilian populations.  CAESAR is a survey of body measurements of approximately 5,000 people ages 18 to 65 years in the USA, Canada, The Netherlands and Italy.

nichola feldman-kiss ©2007

projects   A-projects.htmlA-projects.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0

the chimaera set

multiple 3-dimensional whole body laser scan, digital photography

light box

i absolutely know i exist AKA. 360 1º rotational views

3-dimensional whole body laser scan, digital photography

inkjet prints

the mean body database (as in standard), 2001 – 2007

(with special thanks to the National Research Council of Canada)

five figures (sketch for the chimaera set)

virtual sculpture

classically bound \ 120302 \ 23:11.16, 2006

one 3-dimensional whole body laser scan


the mean body database
Research License and Archiving Agreementperformancenrc_license.html

the mean body database, Research License and Archiving Agreement

performance document

the imperceptible movie

digital video loop


the chimaera set

multiple 3-dimensional whole body laser scan, stereo lithography

rapid prototype

purchase nichola feldman-kiss: \ mean body

published by Carleton University Art Gallery 2007

forward by Diana Nemiroff and essay by Kim Sawchuck

nichola feldman kiss art and designindex.htm.html