The blandness and conformity of suburbia is an old theme--and considering the increasing demographic diversity of American suburbs, an inaccurate one. However, photographer Martin Adolfsson's book Suburbia Gone Wild: How Suburbia Is Conquering the World reveals the extent to which Western-styled (or is it American?) suburbia has reproduced itself. The photograph below, which could have been taken in a house on my street in suburban Chicago, was shot in Shanghai.
I question the title--the phenomenon Adolfsson records doesn't strike me as "wild" except perhaps in its proliferation of sameness. But his visual style recalls the proto-Surrealist photographer Eugène Atget. Walter Benjamin's remarks about Atget could equally apply to Adolfsson. Atget's photography, Benjamin writes, reveals
physiognomic aspects, image worlds, which dwell in the smallest things--meaningful yet covert enough to find a hiding place in waking dreams, but which, enlarged and capable of formulation, make the difference between technology and magic visible as a thoroughly historical variable.