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Well, I did it, put up some last posters, wandered around town, listened to some Nick Drake, felt a bit melancholic (and really full after a ridiculously large schnitzel)and went to bed. For a while, before I woke from nightmares about really long mullets…

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And as I lay there I began to think again about this whole doppelganger thing. Having kind of lost my ‘bock’ for the idea, as they say in Deutsch, I kind of came round to things again. Over supper I had been dissecting the idea with some friends.. That as with most art works for public space, it is pretty difficult to gauge any effect you have had on a ‘broader’ public. But that I felt that really not touched enough people, that the work had really not been ‘visible’ enough

A critical ‘problem’ with finding my doppelgangers was that, even if they called me, when it came to the point of meeting, everyone got cold feet. Which I totally understand (as i got cold feet as well) But also it exposed them, at this point they became vulnerable. In some ways it says quite a lot about the way these people perceived public space (as this was always where i suggested meeting) that they felt threatened meeting an unknown entity there.

But, in my midnight thinkings I had a rare moment of lucidity. That, Oxford-Bonn context aside, in a world of 6 billion individuals there must be at least a few who look, if not identical to me, then pretty darn similar. That thought alone keeps me interested. For this project I was interested in searching, in seeing how to present the idea in a non-art context (hence the homemade flyers etc). In seeing how my perception of a city would change if I put up posters of my face around the place. But, doubting the efficacy of this, of the ‘subtle’ work becoming almost ‘invisible’, I think I am actually interested in the result now. I mean, maybe I should employ all methods available, use media, use galleries, really try and find this person. Make it an ongoing process. I was all about ‘the journey’, but maybe the journey’s overrated…

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I’ll leave you with this. One last doppelganger suggestion which I do quite like. Thanks for watching. Laters.

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Zwillingsbruder

25Oct07

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Ok, had a nap and back on some kind of form. Had a few thoughts about yesterday. Spent a while handing out flyers of me, another in a growing list of strange experiences. Flyering is never the best job at the best of times. Not a great success rate. In order to get anyone to take anything I seem to feel this need to look overly earnest. I’m not quite sure what happens to my face when I plummet into this role, but I end up feeling numb in my forehead, and then faintly nauseous… And this was compunded by the fact that I didn’t actually really feel like discussing the idea any more. I think each idea has a finite amount of times it can be explained before it evaporates.

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So I developed this technique where I would make sure the target person was walking towards me, I’d execute the delivery of the flyer (earnest face) and then hotfoot it off (opposite of earnest face) body tensed for a cry of recogntion. Really quite a stressful experience, and, needless to say, made me think again about why I was engaged in this whole thing. Although, whilst in the back of mind is the insistent thought that I am soon going to be punched in the face, the people that stop generally dig the idea.

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So here are the two mayors. Aren’t they great. So full of bonhomie, it was unreal. Actually, although I started off the whole ‘window unveiling ceremony’ sulking in the corner like a twat I ended up being quite won over by the whole thing. The Oxford Mayor even did his speech in German (he’s obviously learned it especially) which I thought was a nice touch. And, having heard that there was some insiduous sub plot to the history of town twinning (whose substance I can’t even remember) I ended up thinking that the whole thing was quite endearing. Imagine a room full of old Oxford dears, and friendly German anglophiles, all dosed up on prosecco and bucks fizz at 10 in the morning… there was a lot of beaming going on.

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This is a photo from the Oxford Bonn handbook from a similar event in the 70’s. By the looks of things they might have had the prosecco treatment at that meeting… (check the british teeth btw). The guy in the middle is Alan Pope, and he was at this meeting too. Bit of a legend actually. I think he’s got wise to something with this town twinning game. Sod art, I’m going into local politics… No, I’m not.

Had a brief heart flutter when I got a text asking if i was looking for my zwillingsbruder (twin brother). But it turned out that it was just someone trying to clarify what my mission was. A couple of missed calls and two sightings of identical twins, and thats about my day. Oh, a brief visit to the arithmeum, a museum of calculators (from abacus to silicon) was really fantastic. If ever in Bonn..

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Tonight I’ll make a last ditch attempt and put up some A4 posters, and tomorrow I will leave. I have to admit I am a little dissappointed.. If this was really a story it would have some kind of endpunkt, finale, conclusion. Well, its not over yet I suppose. And also it’s not really a story, or not entirely. The one doppelganger who is friendly and not wary, is a girl called Britta and she even sent me her photo. Unfortunately she does not really look like me. Thanks anyway ‘tho.


Got to jkeep this short. was up all night backing text and photos for the vitrine at the stadthaus. not really think straight and this post is taking forever to write. All went ok today, was an official opening of a glass panel commemorating the oxford bonn link. Lots of dignataries smiling at each other (and looking quite bemused at the doppelganger vitrine)

Coincidentally the Lord Mayor of Oxford and his Bonn counterpart are incredibly similar… reminded me a bit of the Thompson Twins from Tintin. Lots of bobbing back and forward. Will attach a photo this afternoon.

Yesterday was another day of phone calls but no meetings. Two doppelgangers, both of them sounded pretty friendly, but also wary (this seems to be the norm) and not keen to meet. I meandered through the day, experimented with overt cooperation, flyering in the market square with my image, chatting to a few people. Life seemed good, and then, disaster struck… The closest i felt that i had got to a doppelganger, doppel one (see ‘I guess it had to happen..’ oct 23rd) turned out to be a ‘friend’ from Weimar stringing me along. So sad, I really thought I was onto something. Not sure how funny it is, I mean, I am asking for it with a project like this. And perhaps its important for me to feel vulnerable as well.

But still, although it is about the search, the journey, the quest etc (and not the doppelganger per se) it would be truly beautiful to find a Doppelganger. Since starting the blog I have heard plenty of stories, of varying veracity, about it happening. I’m not quite sure how it would affect me… perhaps it would finally push me over the edge..

Ok, gots to have a small snooze. Promise some pics later.


Apparently that’s a zen joke. I read it in my book of the mo (zadie smith, the autograph man, v funny). I think its kind of relevant to my day to day. It wasn’t entirely uneventful, but after yesterdays adrenaline fuelled afternoon, I decided to revert to covert strategies again.

The morning was quite funny, I got a phonecall from a guy swearing that he looked just like me, so much so that then he decided (whilst on the phone) that I had actually stolen a photo of him and stuck it up around town. i asked him if he wanted to meet, but he said he had ‘angst’. There was quite a lot of laughing involved on both sides, and he was very keen to chat. In the end I had to excuse myself and hang up.

Then there was some faffing about at the stadthaus with a vitrine. They seem pretty convinced they are going to show photos of my doppelgangers in Bonn (next to the magic lanterns made by the Kidlington special needs school). I am trying to break it to them gently that its more about looking than it is about finding… Not sure how convinced they are.

And then another contact this evening. A text promising me a photo of a doppelganger via email and thanking me for the good laune (mood?) I have since received the photo, and… apart from being a girl, I’d say there is a certain amount of similarity.Then I got an email from another girl saying that she would like to be my doppelganger, but short of a sex change, it would be impossible. Whats with the girl doppelgangers? Beginning to doubt my masculinity.. Oh, and to top it all, there was this very camp dude in the launderette (who might have got the wrong end of the shtick) saying “But i sink you ahh uneek”

So, i sense a calm before the storm. If the day had a soundtrack I think it would be a Chet Baker trumpet tune. Well I only say that as that is what I was listening to on my meander home from sticking up more flyers. Actually the soundtrack of my mid afternoon skype cross fire would be a bit more Aphex Twin. My head still hurts from that. Tomorrow I will return to overt strategies and do some flyering in the town squares. Ah, and i have some great information from teh Oxford Bonn twinning handbook. But that must wait. Schlafenzeit.


Well, things have been moving along. Firstly, just as I was finishing the post this morning I got another call. Again, I had to do best in my rudimentary deutsch. I was flailing away, had just got to the bit where I say “I’m from Oxford, etc” when she interrupted me and said “Ja, und ich komme aus Birmingham, bitch” and hung up! What does that mean? What to do?

Well, I proceeded to the Stadthaus (like the council) where I had to meet the Oxford contact lady who was pretty helpful. The lift situation in the building is quite novel, you have to key in where you are going before you get in the lift. Once in the lift you have no control! I tried to make small talk about this to the Oxford contact lady, unsuccesfully. Anyway, it was quite fun sitting there listening to her call around (radio stations etc, an attempt to disseminate the message further) and listen to her say, very seriously. “Hi, yes, I’m (her name) calling from the Stadthaus.. I have a gentleman here from Oxford, a Mr. Sam Hopkins…yes, and, um he’s looking for his doppelganger…(long pause), do you think you might be able to help us?”

Its funny when you hear someone else express your idea. I was sitting there thinking “Am I really doing this..” And wondering why she was not laughing although she did in the end. Then on the way out from the building I got another call from a girl, this time more friendly, who said she had a friend who looked exactly like me. But that she was in Cologne and she didn’t know where he was. Apparently she had been in Bonn this morning. She promised to call back with more info.

The time was now drawing close for the 1630 appointment. I went home, showered, put some newly bought deoderant on and tried not to be nervous. It felt like I was going on a date and I was about 15 (although when I was fifteen I have to say I rarely went on dates).. But anyway, I went to the rendezvous point outside Macdonalds and waited 45 minutes… No show, I was stood up. But I have to admit I was a little relieved. A lot of people meet outside Macdonalds and I eyed them up, imagining they might be my doubleganger. Whenever they got their phones out I felt my leg stiffen in anticipation of the vibration of my phone. It was quite a stressful experience. I calmed myself by listening to a newly bought Reggae Riddims cd (Black Shed Riddim is very good). Then i bought a Caramel Sundae, a copy of The Guardian (I’m not sure which one of those purchases I should apologise more for) and went to do my laundry. Where this happened.

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I guess this is the friend of the girl that called. Word has spread to Frankfurt. We texted a bit and he is going to check the blog and get back to me. He naturally seemed a bit wary as, like most people, he wanted to know why on earth I am doing this. My German (and occasionally English) always fails at this point.. I did ask him if I could upload these images of the texts but he has not replied. If you object, Doppel One, then let me know and I’ll withdraw them sofort)

I have also asked the lady who works in the hotel, who knows someone called Richard who looks like me. She said the photo of me was a bit dodgy and when I agreed and said that a friend of mine said I looked mad, she replied “I cannot say, you are my guest…” Cheers. then the guy in the launderette said that I had a doppelganger 30 years ago in the states, apparently one of The BeeGees. This tops the suggestions from ‘friends’ so far, which also includes:

Mathew McConaughy
Hugh Grant
Prince William
Hector Snuggs (a friend of mine who thinks we might actually be doppelgangers)

Ok, off to put more of those frilly adverts of lamp posts (they do seem reminiscent of grass skirts) Until tomorrow.


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Where to start? Seems like a lot has happened.. Well, last night, after a bowl of lentil soup (chopped parsley on the top-good sign) at my favourite imbiss so far (Moroccan, big owner, v cool), I waded through the piles of rubbish on the pavement and went out to stick my image and phone number to a selection of the lamposts in the vicinty. It was difficult not to get distracted by the rubbish, the piles, as kind of assemblages, were really beautiful. I took some photos (no tripod, hence the strange perspective). See above and below.

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But, I managed to keep focus and stick up about 50 ‘adverts’ for someone that looks like me. I wanted them to look a bit like the adverts for a flat, or a lost cat, which normally appear on lamp posts. As previously I felt a bit shifty, but when I saw someone had used the lamp post space to advertise yoga classes somehow I felt a bit better. Seemed to make the act a bit less criminal. What is this? I’m such lame guerilla artist… Honestly

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And then, after a huge breakfast this morning (I am beginning to get concerned that it is not included in the price) I wandered upstairs, looked at my phone, and, as often happens when I look at it, it rang! And there was someone on the end who said, I saw your advert and I really look you! I didn’t know quite what to do. In my pretty garbled German I tried to explain that I was from Oxford, the city twinning, etc. Anyway, we have arranged to meet at Macdonalds (where he/she works) by the Hauptbahnhof at 1630..

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I can’t quite believe this has happened so quickly. What about my elusive doppelganger that I would have to use all my cunning to find? I am also slightly concerned that this doppelganger might be a girl, or a boy whose voice has not yet broken.. If my doppelganger is like a mirror, reflecting my true character, what does this mean?

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I also got an interesting mail from my friend Marie. There is a website (www.myheritage.com) where you can upload your image and, using facial recognition software it gives you your percentage likeness to celebrities. She did this on my behalf, and the following where the results:

Adam Goldberg 74 %
Allama Iqbal 66 %
Jason Biggs 62 %
Jake Gyllenhaal 61 %
Hendrik Lorendtz 56 %
Roger Daltrey 55 %
Rob Bourdon 55 %
Peter Greenaway 53 %
Joaquin Phoenix 52 %
Gabriela Sabatini 51 %

Unfortunately, none of these seem to be resident in Bonn. I also got an interesting post from Naomi (nts.randomizer on “covert operations”) who was saying that perhaps the self is my own doppelganger. Its weird, as I had been thinking of this sense of duplicity this morning. Its odd, performing the ‘character’ who is seeking his double, and at the same time, the ‘author’ figure who is documenting this and fashioning it into a narrative. Like yesterday when I went around placing photos of myself around, and then returning to take photos of those photos.

It reminds me of my mum’s stories of her childhood. She was an only child and lived in the countryside on a farm, so often didn’t have other kids to play with. She used to solve this by playing all the characters in her imaginary stories. ie She would be a robber, steal something, jump out of the window, (leaving obvious footprints) then run round the house, back in the door, and this time would be the policeman, looking at the footprints left by the robber, then she’d run off and come back as someone else, etc. Ingenius.

I guess in some ways it comes back to the spectre of documentation, and the distance from the ‘action’ that this involves. I think a solution is to embed the documentation as part of the process, and to try and blur the boundaries between character/author, actor/director, perfomer/documentarian. OK, enough of this. If anyone can shed any light on this issue…


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Well after a rainy start to the day (well, most of the day in fact) I decided to step things up a bit. From the past day and a half of observation it has become clear that my double is not going to be found easily. I’m tempted to talk of him/her as prey, and myself as the wily hunter, but that’s not really fair, and besides, I’m not going to kill him and stuff him and hang him on a wall. Although, come to think of it, perhaps taking his photo and sticking it in a gallery is basically tantamount to this. Something to consider…

So I spent the evening peppering Bonn with passport photos of me, and then retracing my steps and taking photos of those photos. Altogether a very strange experience. I am so bad at trying to look natural when I feel guilty, and its not as if I was even engaged in illegal activities (I don’t think dropping multiple photos of yourself is against the law, but I have not actually checked). It felt a bit like tagging, marking my territory, something quite primeval (had to check the spelling of that) about it. Sowing the city with my image.

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This act done I am already beginning to feel a bit shifty. In the back of my mind is the thought that maybe someone will mistake these photos of me for a wanted photo and jump me, take me to the polizei and claim their reward. The poor cleaning lady already thinks I am bananas. She came in to find me surrounded by hundreds of photos of me everywhere! Its a small room, and they were on most available surfaces. She hurriedly changed the towel and backed out nervously.

THis evening I will put up more photos, this time, in a slightly different format. I’ve been trying to figure out how many people I can reach with these tactics. Bonn has 350,000 inhabitants. How many are mobile. How many would would pass by an image of mine if I distributed 500? How many would look? How many would know someone that looks like me? How many would act on what they see? I have not actually done these calculations but I fear the resulting number would be pretty small. If anyone reading this has spare time and a passion for mental arithmetic, do get in touch..

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Bonn has a very different feel to it this evening. And I don’t think it’s entirely my delusional projection. It is one of those days when you are allowed to chuck out anything you want so the streets are filled with piles of old furniture, little knowles of mdf shelving, pyres of stained cushions, even fridges and freezers (the better ones have already been picked up by burly men in vw trucks). Its dark now and it seems to be an evening for fireworks, which together with the detritus scattered about lends the scene a slightly post apocalyptic quality.

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And then, on the way home I saw a truly beautiful sight. One of the main streets in Bonn festooned with German and British flags, most of them limp and sordid in the rain, as preparation for Oxford week. I just don’t like flags. It’s as simple as that. More tomorrow.