VCC338H5S - Picturing the Suburbs. Taught by Professor Meghan Sutherland

Course Description

In many respects, the rise of suburbia cannot be separated from the economic development of television and new media technologies and the role they play in the construction of mainstream visual culture today. Perhaps for this same reason, artists and activists working in a wide range of 'high' art practices have often used the image of the suburbs as the aesthetic trope of capitalist mass-production par excellence — the very embodiment of a culture that has sacrificed aesthetic value as such to the economic imperatives of mass-mediated standardization and surface appearance. This course will try to make sense of how images of the suburbs move across these uncomfortably entwined threads of 20th and 21st century visual production, and the implications this movement holds for how we understand the relation between aesthetics and mass-production; between private and public space; between 'high' and 'low' art; and between visual media and the sociopolitical space of the built environment. Students will trace the appearance of suburban imagery across contemporary photography, painting, avant-garde film and multimedia installation art as well as popular genres of film, television and new media, in each case exploring the latter’s significance as both an object of visual culture and a distinctly pictorial mode of spatial and cultural organization.

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For information about prerequisites, or to have the prerequisites waived, contact our Undergraduate Counsellor, Stephanie Sullivan, at: