Joe Johnson: Keno Tournament Room (detail)

Work / Photography

Joe Johnson photographs the uneven playing field of Reno’s neon landscape

Joe Johnson’s photo-essay The Playing Field documents Reno’s casinos in their spectacular neon glory, but completely empty. The interior architecture designed to delight, confuse and distract looks even more absurd deserted than when it’s packed with OAPs drinking Screwdrivers. Almost every surface is reflective and disorientating; those that aren’t project mountain-top lakes and seascapes.

Joe’s photographs of the “true” outside and the bright desert sun whiting out almost every surface make for a humbling juxtaposition to the casino lights. It’s here that you see the degradation of a once-thriving city, and more pertinently its landscape.

He graduated from the MFA programme at Massachusetts College of Art in 2004 and has since exhibited and lectured all over the US. His work often covers manmade spectacle, unpopulated spaces and the degradation of nature.


Joe Johnson: Shelter


Joe Johnson: Casino Entrance 01


Joe Johnson: Reno, Looking North


Joe Johnson: Seating Arena


Joe Johnson: Keno Tournament Room


Joe Johnson: Motel Office


Joe Johnson: Dome Escalator