Confronting Our Modern Addiction with Justin Dusett

Modern Addiction

For our next feature presentation, we digitally sat down with graphic design artist Justin Dusett for an all inclusive interview on his Modern Addiction exhibition. We chopped it up about the birth of Modern Addiction the exhibition, the conflicts and positives that come with social media, and of course music. Usually when we think of addictions, images of drugs, cigarettes, & gambling come to mind. Modern Addiction challenges us to see our omnipresent smartphones as the gateway device to our modern day fixations.

Justin Dusett (2)
Written By: Colin Pieters


What initially started off as a few sketches blossomed into the digital and exhibition of Modern Addiction, which can be seen online or in person at Mercer Gallery at Monroe Community College. The interactive posters that compile the exhibit are displayed with an individual QR code for each piece. When scanned, the QR code will direct the viewer to a website that reveal facts about the interactive posters. If you scan the QR code for Facebook/Marlboro cigarette pack, it will feature statistics on Facebook usage: 23% of users log in at least 5x per day, 48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, and 72% of online adults visit at least once a month.

The final version is clean and seamless, but it wasn’t always that easy. There were setbacks as Justin rescaled the size of his exhibit based on restrictions and of course there was the internet. Justin even admitted that the project stalled a few times due to his own social media usage. “As far as my interaction, it was something I checked first I woke up. Roll over see if I have notifications and if I didn’t, I was checking the apps. Maybe I just didn’t get those alerts”.


Justin Dusett

“We’re all a little addicted, if you have twitter or Facebook, it’s not something you just check once a week, it’s a steady habit.”

We are becoming digitally obese in a sense and the consequences are causing the a slow deterioration in our real life interactions. This was also another source of inspiration for the development for Modern Addiction.

“I was more inspired by my friends. We would sit at the diner table and instead of us talk about what’s going on, we were all scrolling through our phones. Also a realization we’re all struggling with it. It’s taking away from everybody not just me.”

Biggest challenges you faced when it came to creating your vision?

“Realizing my limitations… If you’re a musician you grow up seeing Kanye putting on shows, and then you realize the concert that you’re going to put on is on a 6 feet by 6 feet spot. So just coming to term with my stage was very difficult. And then getting everything that I could pack on to that stage without letting it fall off the edge. my biggest challenge was scaling back and still going big.”

And that he did. Instead of appearing live during his Q&A portion of the live showcase, he decided to call in via Skype to briefly introduce himself and to recite the poem found on Modern Addiction, but before he could finish the router was disconnected; abruptly hanging up on his viewers. A moment later he entered the room and gave a lecture on addictions, and dove deeper into the meaning of Modern Addiction pieces.

“If I could make it a scratch n sniff Facebook, where they could have smelled cigarettes I would have.”

This was truly an experience that I wished I could have been present for. It would only be right that there was a music playlist to go along with live showing. Although not the exact mix, we recreated the playlist via Soundcloud to whet your auditory appetite.

“I wanted to get as many senses involved as I could because I wanted it to be ethereal experience. I didn’t want it to be just a gallery show where you look and think, I wanted it to be something you were apart of. I wanted it to invoke a sense of interaction and inclusion.”

When he isn’t working on his next design, you can find Justing exploring his hometown, Rochester, for his next photo opportunity. Through this lifestyle, he has found that social media can still be used to do great things, such as building communities online and in real life. Don’t believe me check out the @ExploreRochester Instagram community Justin helped create to connect the photographers within his hometown. “We’re creating a community of people who are all interested in what’s going on in the city and how the other people are interacting with it.” Justin and the other founders Steve Carter & Joe Snell hold seasonal #ROCstaMeets to bridge the virtual and physical worlds.

[Favorite place to take pictures] “Wherever I haven’t been before”

The internet and social media aren’t going away anytime soon, so quitting cold turkey wouldn’t be the best option. Step 1 in our 12-step recovery program should start by admitting we have a problem. Because the Internet.


Find more of Justin Dusett’s work:

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