Todd Hido’s ‘Homes at Night’

Todd Hido’s series Homes at Night presents a version of suburbia that is at once alluring and unsettling. Hido’s photographs depict isolated suburban homes at night, presenting a shadowy, empty, exterior suburban world replete with implied narrative.

Drawing on his own childhood memories of suburbia, Hido focuses on views that are anonymous in their uniformity. He seeks out scenes that could be found anywhere in America, at any time in the post-war era. Each photograph works to transform the seemingly everyday, and invert the familiar.

Hido is interested in exploring themes of urban isolation and interior lives, lived separately from outward appearances. The images subvert the traditional American suburban fantasy, presenting the anxieties and alienation that suburbia has now come to embody in popular culture. The compositions allude to the often discomforting and lonely scenes of Edward Hopper’s paintings, and reflect director David Lynch’s interest in the underside of suburban American culture.

Painterly and seductive, each composition is rich with both textural detail and sumptuous deep colour. Produced on analogue film with no additional staging or lighting from the photographer, the images are lit with the site-specific artificial lighting that surrounds each house. Hido explores subtleties and variations in light and shadow found in these quietly unsettling scenes. Streetlights and emanating interior lighting flood the images with a cinematic, halogen glow that is at once intense and warm, and unsettlingly eerie.

In search of what he describes as a ‘kind of pregnant moment’, Hido captures scenes often bereft of human presence, although a singular lit window, a door left ajar or an empty car become signifiers of stories left untold. Each work has a multitude of narrative possibilities and emotive readings. Devoid of figures, and with a sense of silence and estrangement, Hido’s works seem to capture the loneliness and alienation of modern urban and suburban life.

The emptiness and anonymity of his scenes work to reveal the inherent tensions in our conceptualisation of ‘home’. His images investigate the kind of sentimentality often connected with ‘home’ or idealised familial intimacy. Presenting the homes as empty shells for the viewer to fill with their own memories or imagined narratives, Hido utilises the domestic construct to examine the space that lies between reality, memory and fantasy.

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