Daniel Bejar’s Double Trouble

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Submitted by Tim Jackson: What happens when someone’s reality hacking becomes your doppelganger…


Two Bejars
by Kelefa Sanneh
The New Yorker
March 21, 2011

It was six o’clock when Daniel Bejar presented himself at the security desk of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The man behind the counter looked up and said, “May I see your I.D.?” Bejar produced his driver’s license. The man scanned it into the system and then frowned. “Did you lose the pass you already had?”

Bejar smiled and shook his head.

“We gave you a pass and took your picture earlier, right?”

Bejar stopped smiling. A woman appeared and asked a question that was not a question: “Daniel, can you come this way?” They disappeared into an office, from which she made urgent phone calls: “The gentleman that’s here has the same name as a gentleman that’s already checked in.”

Bejar had anticipated the confusion. He is an artist with a wide mischievous streak. For one project, “Get Lost!,” he replaced New York City subway maps with versions that had a slightly different coastline and no names or markings—he wanted to evoke the city as it might have looked in 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed past. Four years ago, Bejar received an effusive e-mail from a man in southern Ontario, a self-described “musical enthusiast”; apparently, the man had meant to reach a different Daniel Bejar, a singer and songwriter from Vancouver who leads a band called Destroyer. Bejar studied up on Bejar. “I was, like, all right—we’re going to share this for the rest of our lives,” Bejar said. “He’s not going to stop making music, and I’m not going to stop making art. But it took a while for me to figure out what to do.”

This is what Bejar did: He grew his hair into a frizzy mane, and he grew a beard, and then he set about re-creating some of the most widely circulated images of Bejar the musician, who has frizzy hair and a beard. Their faces aren’t identical—Bejar the artist has a more assertive brow and a narrower face—but the resemblance in the images is pretty close. He called his project “The Googlegänger,” and he put his work online. So far, at least two reviews of the new Destroyer album, “Kaputt,” have been accompanied by images of Bejar instead of Bejar.

Bejar the artist had come to Rockefeller Center that day to watch a taping of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” on which Bejar the musician was making his American television début, performing a song from “Kaputt.” Bejar the musician is only dimly aware of Bejar the artist, and Bejar the artist had no interest in meeting his counterpart face to face. The woman in the security office finally released Bejar the artist. “Two guys with the same name,” she said to her partner. “They kind of look the same.”

Bejar is occasionally mistaken for Bejar in person, usually after he has given his credit-card information to someone who happens to be a Destroyer fan. On the sixth floor, outside Fallon’s studios, he was introduced to Jonathan Cohen, Fallon’s music booker, who didn’t flinch. A publicist who works for Bejar the musician, Judy Miller Silverman, emerged and warily shook the artist’s hand. “I get to answer all the e-mails about which photo is which,” she said.

Read the rest of the article here.