John Lusis (b. 1987, Madison, WI) is a photographer based in Chicago, IL. He received his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 2009 and MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2016. John’s practice focuses on the ways in which humans interface with buildings psychologically and economically. Specifically, obsolescence’s effects on buildings causing simultaneous growth and destruction. His work has been shown nationally, internationally and online as well as held in private and public collections in the United States. His work has been exhibited in various galleries across the Midwest and abroad, online, and in private and public collections.
Cities Without Past
Across Chicago condos pop up along every street and yet we often forget about the structures that might offer us some use or history. Gleaming and ominous, these new condos appear to be built for certain individuals to pump capital through rather than created for the inhabitants of the city. Cities Without Past responds to the rapid production of condos and high rise buildings within cities that appear to be architecturally homogenous and conversely examines the upheaval brought on by economic forces known as architectural obsolescence.
Architectural obsolescence describes the abstract value judgments placed upon structures that cause them to sit in decay or wiped out forever.
This process also creates a constant regeneration, where rapid modernization causes newly built structures to sit unoccupied and quickly become obsolete. This constant creation of new buildings creates cities in which the architecture is increasingly indistinguishable from one another as we are no longer building for social gain, but rather as expressions of wealth. Our built environment is poly-temporal or always looking back and forward at the same time, our former buildings are not surpassed but reshuffled, repeated, and recombined.
Not only are we to consider what to do when buildings outlast their usefulness but how they live together beside other buildings in a way that helps us as a society. Newly constructed condo buildings have an impermanence in some sense due to the cheap materials and the creative destruction that births them. With the rapid construction of these condos, it might also be of use to consider what might happen when newly built condos are quickly superseded and discarded. What are the functions of thousands of condo buildings once they are unable to be filled? Our past structures are as much in doubt as for the new ones unfolding before us.
Architectural Obsolescence creates an unsettling space, one where the present seems unstable, and the future appears constructed for a select few. The photographs are simultaneously attractive yet fractured. By doing so, viewers are invited to evaluate how buildings are constructed and deconstructed in cities and the implications of that very process.
To view more of John’s work please visit his website.