Photographer turns unrelenting boringness of suburbia into art
Jason Griffiths is an assistant professor of design at Arizona State, and apparently living in the middle of all that desert sprawl got to him after a while. In the early aughts he jumped into a car, drove all over the country, and made a discovery so banal it’s practically a tautology: Suburbia is the same everywhere.
Except, because he's a photographer and he's been steeped in design thinking and this is what artists do, Griffiths managed to turn his sojourn into a book called Manifest Destiny: A Guide to the Essential Indifference of American Suburban Housing. It's a collection of photos and artspeak word salad that might just make you think a little more deeply about the hypnotic sameness of the sprawltopia that most of us call home. From his essay on the project, at Design Observer:
"At this stage the building is in its most homogenous state, exposing a fundamental material ubiquity that subjects all its surfaces to an indiscriminately reductive treatment."
"In Iowa and much of the Midwest, houses have extensions called Bump Outs. […] Here, an interior fireplace is reduced to a small metal vent in the short space between the hearth and the exterior. Instead of forming a brick chimney stack, it is subsumed into the all-pervading language of UPVC siding and capped under a shallow pitch of asphalt roof shingles."
"A great deal of suburban architecture may be bought off the shelf in hardware superstores like Home Depot and Lowe's. […] The structures are carefully spaced to create an enhanced perspective of rural typologies and conventional pitched-roof forms, almost like an evolutionary tree."
Manifest Destiny: A Guide to the Essential Indifference of American Suburban Housing, Design Observer.