The unfortunate suburban migration continues. These newly arrived suburbanites exchange their multidimensional urban city views for those of a carefully constructed and intensely controlled pastoral view. This view from their windows is one that symbolizes their ownership of the land and their freedom from dense urban living conditions. The open space and grass function as powerful reminders of why they live in suburbia. But what would occur if the suburbanites were to exchange their view of plastic Eden with images from the city? What if the view of their altered yards and obsessively manicured gardens were intentionally replaced with views of urban landscapes? What if an urban view were to be elevated and aestheticized until it was presented as a beautiful object to be coveted and desired? Several psychological theories, and in particular the Cognitive Dissonance Effect, suggest suburbanites could change their attitude about their living conditions in the suburbs with respect to the city. The goal of this thesis is to provide an experience through which a change in the attitudes of suburbanites regarding living in an urban environment might occur. The thesis is more than just images, but is actually an attempt to explore, measure, and quantify the attitudinal change of two experimental populations when they are exposed to the same simulated city view (Figure 1). One group lived in the city of Rochester proper within a mile of the center of the city, while the other lived outside of the city, several miles away. My Thesis Exhibition was part of the documentation of a performance that occurred in private residences in Rochester. Coinciding with the opening of the exhibition, each of the selected residences first completed a survey. Then they placed in front of one of their windows the identical image and frame that all of the other residences received. They lived with the image for an extended period of time, 8 weeks, at which point the objects were removed and the survey was re-administered to document any attitudinal change that may have occurred.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cities and towns in art; Photography--Psychological aspects; Suburban life--Psychological aspects; Cognitive dissonance; Performance art

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Arts (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


Elaine O'Neil

Advisor/Committee Member

Dan Larkin

Advisor/Committee Member

Alex Miokovic


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at N8217.C35 G76 2004


RIT – Main Campus