john slepian artist


Transcendence, performance, 2014

My work of the last fifteen years can be best described as presenting dilemmas to the viewer. It has been more about asking questions than providing answers—questions to which I myself do not know the answer. I've been particularly interested in looking at how meaning is constructed in our experience of works of art, and how technology can be used to make that process visible. For each of my works I've looked to develop a concept, a formal approach, and a technological solution that compliment each other. This often means developing unique technology for each piece. My hope is that the very nature of the technology itself can also serve to produce meaning in the work, often metaphorically.

Throughout my various bodies of work I've asked a lot of questions: What does it take to cause us to experience empathy with the object of our gaze, even if it clearly isn't real? How can technological artifacts cause us think about “nature” as a cultural construct? What happens to a work of formalist art when the rules of Modernism are broken? Is art an activity, an idea, an object, or all of these? And most recently, in my performance work: Can an artist's own internal experience be made to be meaningful to others by making it visible with technology?

Admittedly these questions are very different, but what they all ultimately ask is: How do we come to understand our world? And how does art help us to do that?

I am also very interested in making work that is funny. I agree with Walter Benjamin who said that, "there is no better start for thinking than laughter. And, in particular, convulsion of the diaphragm usually provides better opportunities for thought than convulsion of the soul." I hope that through irony and humor we can better understand our experience of art and maybe something about the nature of our experience in general.