John Slepian

Five College Associate Professor of Art and Technology
Hampshire College Professor John Slepian
Contact John

Mail Code AC
John Slepian
Lemelson Building AC
413.549.4600

John Slepian,  Five College associate professor of art and technology, received a B.F.A. in film and television from New York University and an M.F.A. in new genres from the San Francisco Art Institute.

His interactive installations, which feature projected and screen-based 3D computer animation, investigate what makes us feel engaged with other living beings. Slepian's artwork has been shown at the Exploratorium and Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, the Art Gallery at Siggraph06 in Boston, and P.S.1/MoMA and Hunter College Art Galleries in New York. In 2002, he received the New Langton Arts Bay Area Award. He has been a resident in the P.S.1 National Studio Program, and in 2005 was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts grant in computer arts.

Personal Website

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • The discourses of art, nature, and technology have been intertwined for centuries, but as technology becomes more sophisticated, it is possible for artworks to go beyond just representing nature, and to begin to simulate it or engage it directly. This course will explore the ways that art can employ both the ideas and tools encountered in areas of research like artificial life, the simulation of complex systems, remote environmental sensing, biomimicry, and green technology. Students will complete a series of conceptually based art projects culminating in a final project of their own devising. Projects will be contextualized by looking at the work of artists working with nature, from the earth art of the 1960s to contemporary work in digital media and robotics. There will be a series of readings on topics like the social construction of nature. Keywords: arduino, programming, installation

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  • This course proceeds from the premise that the ideas behind a successful artwork should be intimately related to its media, conventions and platforms-and that those in turn shape which ideas we even think. We will investigate the underlying assumptions of digital media, through the process of making. Students will work with a wide variety of tools that allow for the creation and manipulation of various media, including bitmap and vector images, 2D animation, and sound. In each case, we will look at the history of the medium and the technologies we use to manipulate it (digital photographs and Adobe Photoshop, for example) and make work that explores and critiques their social and cultural context. Students will create a series of conceptually based digital artworks, culminating in a multimedia final project. Art making in general is largely a matter of critical thinking: thinking about one's work, the world in which it exists, and what one hopes to achieve with it. To quote conceptual artist, Sol Le Witt, "The idea becomes a machine that makes the art." In this course, we will explore the machines that make the art-and our ideas. Media & Technology Questions: How can media & technology bring us together as well as isolate us? Proposed new questions: How do our Media and Technology change who we are? Who does our Media and Technology exclude, favor? How can we make ethical media art?

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  • The contemporary practice of art is less and less dependent on any particular disciplinary skill. Nonetheless, making art is very much still a rigorous process. It depends on highly developed critical, sensory and communicative skills. This studio art course is an introduction to some of the basic questions a contemporary artist must answer: What rules will guide the making of my work? What forms and materials will be best for what I wish to express? How can my work metaphorically embody my ideas? We will answer these questions and more through a series of collaborative and individual projects, readings and viewings, and frequent group critiques--the process of critique itself being one of the foundations of a successful art practice. Some familiarity with an art medium could be helpful, but is not necessary. (keywords: art, ideas, sculpture, installation, performance)

  • In this course, students will create a series of interactive projects, starting with screen-based works, progressing to connecting simple electronic sensors and actuators to multimedia programs, and culminating in a fully realized interactive work, which may be web-based, a sculpture, installation or performance. Students will work with a variety of multimedia technologies (including animation, video, and sound), various types of sensors (tracking motion with video cameras, sensing movement and touch, sensing environmental conditions, etc.). They will also work with a range of actuator technologies (DC motors, servo motors, solenoids, etc.). Our engagement with these technologies will be supported and contextualized by looking at the work of prominent interactive artists and by a series of theoretical readings drawn from fine art, new media, philosophy, and other disciplines. (keywords: computer programming, art, installation, interactive art, performance art)