I have always found big box stores to be disorienting. One day while filling my cart, walking from one end of a store to the other, I wondered how far I had traveled and what my path looked like. I started recording these movements with video cameras and GPS units in order to understand these mundane experiences in new ways.
Contemporary spaces often have a disembodied spatiality. In some ways shopping at these enormous stores mirrors the ambulatory experience of browsing the internet, where everything is available simultaneously. Sometimes I lose track of what I am looking for as I come across an interesting display for stationary or dog food.
Big box stores are contemporary versions of traditional markets, which usually function as both commercial and social centers for a town. The social component is often lost now, as I see other shoppers cruising the aisles but they are just as disoriented as me, whispering to themselves as a reminder of what they came to buy in the first place. The goods purchased are shipped from all over the world, with no real reference to where they came from. Targets and Wal-Marts have expanded to fill the country. The idea of a localized store or market has been absorbed by the homogenized sameness that we seem to find comforting.
In this project I am translating walking into an act of drawing, highlighting the patterns that our bodies continually draw and re-draw as we traverse contemporary spaces. I am interested in how the forms that arise out of these walks reveal the container of our movements and patterns of commerce.
Billy Friebele lives and works in Washington, DC. He received a Masters in Fine Arts in from the Maryland Institute College of Art. His work examines the intersection of new media and public space through video, animation, and installation. Friebele has exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Orlando Museum of Art, and the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC. He has also recently exhibited in Sarajevo, Bosnia; Jatiwangi, Indonesia; Detroit, MI; Boston, MA; and St. Louis, MO among other places. He teaches as an Assistant Professor of Digital Media at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.