one track, 2005
still from continuous loop dvd
Projected before the viewer is a still image of a rural landscape. Lines of a train track shrink into the distance and curve away to disappear out of frame. The vantage point is set at eye level between the two rails of the track with the camera's lens acting as the viewer's still gaze. In opposition to the still landscape two females in mirrored position, move in quick steps up and down the rails of the track. Their zipper like movements are endlessly looped. Through the speed and flawlessness of their steps the figures become machine like. Their perpetual motions mimic that of a moving train. Audio is silent.With focused expressions they concentrate on perfectly coordinating their motion. Reliant on each other to stay balanced upon the rails, the figures hold hands across the width of the track with their free hands stretched out for extra balance. Turned away they zip up the tracks and into the distance. Before the curve the women stop, change direction and zip to the foreground facing the viewer. They do not stop to slow, but pass by, lifting their held hands over the image. Hidden out of frame and behind the viewer's back, the women switch direction reappearing within view as they run up the rails and into the background of the image. Light chases the women back and forth along the tracks, adding extra speed to their game. It is not obvious whether it is the focus of their chase or simply an aesthetic element. The movement of the light indicates a manipulation of time and speed, revealing the trick behind the superhuman action. In real time the women's quick zip is actually a slow test of balance as they inch step by step along the rails. Ironically the use of digital speed manipulation creates an effect that is not modern, but more reminiscent of old silent films. The combination of the speed of the women's steps and their arms flapping up and down for balance appears slapstick and campy.One Track plays with rearranging the viewer's expectations of composition and narrative. The nature of the image expects a traditional story line. Typically the two figures would run around the curve of the track until they disappeared out of sight. Hidden they would change direction and finally reappear within the image. In the case of One Track the women remain in the background, but disappear into the foreground. One Track plays on the traditional use of the figure within the landscape. The picturesque country image calls for a simple storyline, but One Track explores a narrative contrary to what the tradition demands. The women seem out of context. They are not gracefully walking in country frock, but are stiffly dressed in gray matching outfits. They are not weary travelers or hard working railway laborers, the women's actions are purposeless. Their dress of identical uniforms coupled with their silly play makes them appear more as school girls than as adults.
Installation: The traditional use of perspective within the framing of One Track is further explored in the installation of the video. The architectural space that frames the projection mimics the lines of perspective made by the train tracks in the video landscape. Opposing walls move closer together as one walks further down towards the projection. The viewer assumes but is unable to see whether the two walls eventually meet, as a third wall, the projection wall, physically cuts off the continuation of the hallway. Much like the camera frame preventing the viewer from seeing the women change direction in the foreground of the video, so does the projection wall. It creates a barrier and the viewer is not able to experience the hallway in its entirety.
all images © Diana Shpungin & Nicole Engelmann 2000-2007