O n D U P L I C I T Y
Krzysztof Kieslowski | director
Having spent most of the last few months considering how our days are increasingly split between physical and virtual worlds, I couldn’t have picked a better time to re-watch “The Double Life of Veronique.” A surreal and beautiful movie by Krzysztof Kieslowski, the film follows two women who share the same face and interests; yet live their lives unaware of each other, lest for a sense of otherness they innately feel. As the story unfolds, we watch their divergent lives arrive at vastly different endings. One to death. The other, love. Yet their behaviors are intertwined by similar passions nonetheless.
Now, is it just me, or does something about this feel all too familiar? Not the love/death part per se, but the sense that we are potentially existing in two places at once? Two very different places, in fact: one of which has walls, whispers, wind, sunshine, subtlety, and sensuality; the other has buttons, behaviors, avatars, archives, and action scripts. One is the physical world. The other is the internet. One has been around for centuries, the other, a little more than a generation.
Regardless, both require us to make specific claims about who we are, what we’re interested in, what we do and want, and who we like to be around. More importantly, both have real ramifications as to how others imagine us to be. For better or worse, our online identity is the new first impression; yet, the means by which we can tailor such impressions to specific audiences is limited and largely outside of of our control.
As we enter an era where we exist not only as bodies, but also as bodies of data, we must reflect on what it means to simultaneously construct “double lives” that may — or may not — evolve in sync with each other… especially if our virtual evolution runs the risk of being informed more by the desires and demands of the crowd rather than our own needs.
So, I offer up this clip from Kieslowski for its beauty as well as the unlikely metaphor. The opening sequence subtly toying with our perception of place as the landscape morphs and conjoins. We must wonder… what is reality afterall?