Literary Tour

Douglas Coupland Scans Shoppers for 3DCanada Project


Author Douglas Coupland has partnered with La Maison Simons in Canada to create a collaborative crowdsourced art project called 3DCanada.

3DCanada is a collaboration between author Douglas Coupland and the Quebec-based department store, Simons, to create a 3D printed art project. 3D printing evangelist John Biehler is providing technical support.

Douglas Coupland told CBC Radio: “We are hoping to scan thousands of Canadian faces and turn them collectively into a massive piece of frozen digital art.”

The project kicked off at the first Simons location in the old city of Quebec in July and is touring across the country to six more stores.

If you’re close to Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver this November 14-15, 2015, then you may be interested in having yourself digitally scanned and 3D printed.

Eager Shoppers Get Scanned for 3DCanada

3DCanadaAt each location in a Simons Store, the team asks their participants to sit still in a chair and to stare at a point for 30 to 40 seconds.

The team then uses a scanner, which is attached to an iPad, and slowly circle around the subject to capture facial details from the chin to the top of the head.

Coupland describes the process in a typically quirky fashion:

“When you are being scanned, like they do in the movies or for anything really, the computer breaks the skin, your clothing into polygons which tend to be almost always triangular, but not necessarily, and the more polygons you have the more detail you get.”

Afterward, they use one of thirteen Tinkerine DittoPro 3D printers, which are on display in the store, to 3D print the scans of the customers — which are they are free to take home and keep.

“It’s kind of simple, it’s kind of scary, but quite beautiful as well,” says Coupland.

Once the 3DCanada project is complete, Douglas plans to incorporate all the data of the people that have been scanned across the country into a large-scale art piece. The resulting sculpture will tour the Simon stores that participated, and ultimately permanently installed in the Toronto location.

The team had a positive experience so far; at a recent stop in the West Edmonton Mall they scanned over 100 people in six hours. And the 3D printers were prominently on display, with 6 printing just inside the store entrance and 6 in the main store window.

For the next scanning session in West Vancouver, anyone in the area is encouraged to swing by the store between 11 am and 5 pm to meet Coupland, get a free 3D scan, a 3D printed bust (to be picked up later that week), and even an exclusive free t-shirt.

Future dates and locations include Toronto (Spring 2016), Ottawa (Summer 2016), and Calgary in 2017. If you’d like to receive updates, then track the progress of the team as they tour the country by following the hashtag #3DCanada on Twitter and Instagram.

3D Canada Douglas Coupland