The American Dream (Home), Deconstructed

Designer Michael Jantzen’s series subverts the suburban mega-manse.

We’ve covered big houses before, the death of the McMansion and the shifting scepter of suburbia (from monolithic American dreamlands to suburban wastelands). Designer Michael Jantzen’s series, called Deconstructing the Houses, caught our attention – as it has many – due to its eye-bending photo-trickery depicting fragmented houses.

Very cool, über-neat.

But what’s also inherent in his twisted and warped re-configurations of the American dream home is a broader statement about the sustainability of such behemoths. While the U.S. housing market is showing hints of recovery, Jantzen’s work calls into question, too, the feasibility of maintaining such gargantuan standards of comfort even in times of economic mending.

From the 1980s to 1950s, the average size of a home in the U.S. went from 983 square feet to 2,330 square feet – and beyond. This push for more space against the encroaching walls of reality (i.e., climate change, massive population growth, scarcity of resources, etc.) seems to reflect a paradoxical anxiety afflicting not just Americans – but every economy crippled by the boom that went bust all over the world.

Jantzen’s photos are visually Picasso-esque, but are perhaps Kafka-esque in meaning.

“Most of my work merges art, architecture, technology, engineering, and sustainable design into one unique experience,” he explains on his site. “I do not consider myself an architect, but rather an artist and inventor who often uses architecture as an art form. The artifacts that evolve from my work are not as important as their broader implications.”

Such as: the support beams. Where are they as the floors crack underfoot, the roof caves in overhead, the crown molding collapses, and the colossal crumbles?

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.