top and bottom, 2004
stills from continuous loop dual channel video installation
Angel and devil, victim and aggressor, sadist and masochist, performer and critic. The duality of human nature is explored in Top and Bottom. Through a dual channel video installation the character roles of two women are mirrored in a water balloon fight. Combined projections allow them to simultaneously act in both roles. In relationship to height Screen 1 is projected higher than Screen 2. Each projection is viewed out of sight of the other, but their relationship is obvious. The manipulation of time and space suggests that the women in Screen 1 are giants dropping water balloons onto miniatures of themselves in Screen 2. Characteristics of duality are further mirrored through a series of formal considerations such as color palette, the positioning of the women in both videos and the placement of the projections.
Screen 1: A concrete ledge and bright blue sky emerge into view from a gray screen. The setting is colorful and light: heavenly. A large cloud appears in the left corner and moves slowly across the screen. Coordinated with the droning sound of a jet the ethereal imagery acts as a surreal backdrop for the duration of the performance. In slow motion two women emerge from behind the concrete ledge. Their long hair blows about dramatically exaggerated by the sounds of wind. In their arms they cradle red water balloons. With concentrated expressions they drop them one by one, determined to hit targets below. As the balloons slip from view, the sounds of echoing explosions are heard. The women continue to disappear and reappear from behind the ledge as they gather more balloons to throw and maintain the rhythm of their attack. The primary palette of the red balloons and the bright blue sky accentuates their childish game and their devilish intentions.
Screen 2: Out of a pitch-black screen a gray concrete setting comes into view. Two women appear out of the darkness as they slowly walk in coordination toward the viewer and stop in time as they hit the edge of the frame. The opening is reminiscent of dramatic entrances in stereotypical action films. The reason for their dramatic entrance is unclear, but within seconds the women are pillaged with red balloons thrown by them from above in Screen 1. A game of insult, the balloons resemble tomatoes as the two women are hit, mocking their failed performance. In Screen 2 the women choose to look in charge, but are beaten and victimized, in Screen 1 the women appear angelic, but their actions are vengeful and devilish.
all images © Diana Shpungin & Nicole Engelmann 2000-2007