People Watching
Temple Contemporary
Mar 29 - Apr 1, 2023
MFA Thesis Exhibition
When William H. Whyte presented his research on the use of public space in the film The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, he observed that peoples’ primary activity in public plazas was “looking at other people.” What and where is considered “public” has expanded beyond physical space into limitless vistas of digital plazas, but Whyte’s observation persists. In the age of digital communication, GPS navigation, and surveillance technology, our relationship to space is multiple, fractured, and layered. Each layer is its own world and, somehow, we’re in all of them.

This body of work approaches the contemporary experience of multi-locatedness through illustrated observations of people’s behavior in the built environment. Many of the scenes depicted in this work are seen from an omniscient perspective, often referred to as a god’s-eye-view. This viewpoint implies distance and control, yet the scenes themselves are direct, personal encounters from the artist’s life. What do you see when you look at looking? Whose perspective do you inhabit? How do we locate ourselves when we can be everywhere?





Installation photos by Neighboring States Photography



© Olivia Fredricks, 2023