Perry Hoberman
Smaller Than Life
The point of departure for Smaller Than Life (Bigger than the Both of Us) (1983) is The Incredible Shrinking Man, a 1957 science fiction film about a man whose exposure to a rare form of radiation causes him to shrink continuously until he reaches a sub-atomic level. This story is used to touch on questions of cinematic and sculptural scale, identity, sexual fear, the atomic age, cinema in the age of television and the very notion of a "larger than life" spectacle. The artist himself, as a stand-in for a character that has already dropped out of sight, wanders through a landscape of unstable 3D living rooms, whirling atomic particles and overblown household objects that hover hallucinogenically in the air. The shrinking man does his utmost to pull the audience down to his size, but finds to his dismay that as he shrinks, the viewer expands. A story that goes backwards (literally on its way to nowhere), it replaces growth with compression, development with retrogression.