In this digital world, the lines of intimacy and consumption can cross over and over until they blur into a single continuum – especially in the last year or so of global isolation, when millions took to the internet as their only means of connection or meaning. Victoria Cheong of New Chance meditates on the nuanced intersection of physical versus digital, meaningfulness and the meaninglessness in her new video and song, “Two Pictures,” premiering today on Audiofemme. The single will appear on New Chance’s forthcoming record Real Time, out July 16 via We Are Time.
The Toronto-based artist explores her relationship to the outer world by removing herself from it completely. Her face painted in skull makeup, she narrates her observations as w post-Earth version of herself, recounting the way she used to move through the world and the things that stimulated her. She reflects on her connection to the digital realm and the way it shaped her everyday life. “I woke each day to pass through the gate to relate to other people,” Cheong sings over extraterrestrial synths and sparse drums, letting woozy saxophone (courtesy Karen Ng) take over the bridge. Viewing the internet as a gate to an endless web of connection is a perfect way to represent it’s duality; the positivity of connection and closeness mixed with infinite opportunities to spar hate or sadness.
Cheong explains that “Two Pictures” was inspired in part by social media algorithms. “There’s no meaning between images that follow each other on a feed,” says Cheong. “It’s actually de-stabilizing, because we can’t make meaning between images. Like, if you see someone celebrating someone and the next image is some horrible thing in the world, it’s like, ‘How am I supposed to feel?’”
She juxtaposes this esoteric phenomenon with the concrete sensation of physical touch. “How do we integrate this image culture into the realm of the senses and the realm of how we perceive or how we project and relate?” asks Cheong. When digital and physical intertwine, what does that mean for our relationships, and what if the two become unbalanced? If all of your intimate connections are formed online, you’re missing out on the essential human need of touching and being touched. But in a world where everyone is online, having no digital footprint can feel close to being non-existent to some.
Cheong’s out-of-body voice contemplates this binary when she sings: “Two pictures/I got stuck in between/I couldn’t tell what either should mean/I knew I had a body/And I knew what it could do/And I could tell it just how to move.” In the wake of algorithmic-fueled confusion, Cheong turns to the simplicity of touch and physical intimacy to ground herself. The observations of her “future self” serve as a sage reminder to find stillness and peace in the things that can’t be found online – the warmth of the sun, a hand to hold, a deep breath.
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