Digital Suburbs: Logic-Defying Fictional Aerial Views

The carefully-crafted streets and avenues of the suburban neighborhood rarely strike anyone as artistic, though they do demonstrate a certain orderly attractiveness. The artwork of Ross Racine takes the suburban landscape to a place it’s never before been: the realm of fine art.

(all images via: Ross Racine)

Racine creates fictional suburban layouts, giving them each the kind of detail and symmetry that one expects to see in an actual neighborhood aerial photograph. Lovely little houses with perfectly landscaped yards surround clean, litter-free streets. Each community boasts an appropriately nonsensical suburban-planned-community-sounding name: Goldenwood Shores, Hickoryglen Estates, Sweetwind Junction, Stonywater Cove.

But there are notable differences between the real thing and Racine’s created worlds. While an actual neighborhood may consist of sharply-defined blocks and lazily curving cul-de-sacs, Racine’s communities feature dizzying concentric circles, impossibly jumbled street systems, insane layouts, and roads that lead nowhere.

It seems that the artist has skillfully blended real aerial neighborhood photos with his imaginary renderings of communities, but the truth is so much more impressive. Ross Racine draws all of his works digitally and freehand.

Using no photographs or scanned materials, he creates the types of suburbs he sees in his head. The neatly-lined-up homes and the lush vegetation are all directly from the artist’s mind – though he does take a measure of inspiration from Google Maps and other aerial suburban snapshots.

These idyllic little scenes are a playful examination of the way we plot out our world. The imagery is recognizable to just about everyone who has ever used a computer to look up an address or directions, but it is warped in a fun and rather loving way.

To Racine, the suburb is a type of organism. It is both abstract and deliberate; chaotic and organized; global and local. Like nature, these man-made constructs are fascinating in their complexity. And like aerial pictures of real suburbs, Racine’s fictional neighborhoods manage to be endearing yet removed enough to highlight the over-consumption that defines our modern lives.