The Day Before Tomorrow
May 16 - June 20 2003
Our two screen slide projection installation "The Day Before Tomorrow" consisting from 216 slides we accomplished in 1999. In the same year it was presented as a part of an international exhibition "Chronos and Kairos. The Time in the Contemporary Art" curated by René Block in the Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel, Germany.
In that project were presented historical works by Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Andy Warhol, Num June Paik, On Kawara, Marcel Broodhaers, Allan Kaprow, George Maciunas, Man Ray, George Brecht and works by contemporary artists.
After that "The Day before Tomorrow" was exhibited internationally and we are very glad that it become a part of the Whitney museum collection.
The work was shot by two handheld photographic cameras at the SCALA film, which is a material for a production of genuine back and white slides.
One camera was held by Svetlana and the other one by myself. We stood next to each other, a few feet apart, and shot what occurred in front of us - found situations from the real life of the city.
These photographs, made on the streets of downtown Manhattan, were taken at eye level. On these images were captured people singularly, in pairs and in small groups who appear to be passing across the scene from left to right or right to left, entering and departing from doorways, standing and talking.
At each screen has been projected a slide program from 108 slides shot by one of us at 9 different locations in the city with a dissolve transition between images. The program has a total duration of 16 min and is projected without sound.
A difference in our position defined that at the root of this work is the notion of parallax. One experiences it as operating principle and as metaphor.
We see that as the overall effect of this installation which is a collaborative project built out of two near but distinct viewpoints.
But differences between what appears on the left screen and the right also document differences of moments captured and the speed with which each of us pushed the shutter button.
Each of us took own decisions regarding when each shot should be made, which moment precisely has to be captured and how long should be a not recorded time gap between two shots. In this way on selected sites we were recording events which unfolded in a front of us and which were entirely unpredictable in their details.
Looking at one screen only one would see a record from a real event, which does keep logic of a narrative. We would see one by one stills captured from a certain event in their temporal succession with gaps in time of various duration between shots.
Looking at two screens simultaneously and comparing images presented on the left and on the right one will realize that logic of a narrative disappears.
For instance, in the reality, a moment captured at the left screen might advance the moment presented at the same time at the right screen, but in the following pair of slides the situation can be reversed.
A simultaneous presentation on two screens is a presentation of two different records of the same event and the viewer has a possibility to compare them.
From one time flow become two different time flows with an individual variable speed and own logic. It is like the time is playing with our memory and us.
It is difficult to reconcile our two visions into a single entity and this denial of singularity creates a tension, which is very important for this work.
As we mentioned earlier we used the black and white film. Black and white image in photography and film has much longer history then a color image what makes an image look "timeless". Only certain details of cloth, sneakers, etc. can indicate approximately a historical time when the work was made.
Accidentally it was a year 1999-a last year of the millennium.
Standing in a front of "The Day before Tomorrow" one cannot see all the details of events unfolding at two different screens simultaneously and has to choose how to look at this work, on which parts of images should concentrate more or which way of looking has to be chosen. Inevitable some details escape viewer’s attention and remain unnoticed. In this way during each perception the work will be accomplished by a viewer in one of many possible forms.
In 1957 Marcel Duchamp stated that the conditions of the "creative act" require that no work of art is finished until completed by the spectator.