When Gielen conceived of a project to produce photographs that would cause viewers to "reconsider how they live," he didn't want to capture just any old suburb from the air. Instead, he "researched foreclosure in different states and zoomed in on those with the highest rates," explicitly connecting his images to the unsustainable phenomenon of "suburban hypergrowth and subsequent stagnancy."
"Using map data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Gielen was able to zoom in on suburban sprawl in individual counties," notes Schwartz. "He visited a number of developments, trying to understand the makeup of the communities and their selling points. In the end, he selected the developments that he deemed most interesting for flyovers in a rented helicopter. 'When you look at what regions had grown the fastest, which ones were in decline, it was always Southwest Florida, the West Coast,' says Gielen. 'Statistics is where I started.'"
"He ended with beautiful aerial photographs of sprawl in all its geometric glory," says Schwartz.