London

Itai Doron

Jay Jopling

Here’s the pitch: Guy Debord meets Marshall McLuhan. The interior monologue of a star-struck Hollywood foundling begins its expansion to infinity. The attack of the 50-foot notion. We find ourselves trapped in a 12,000-square-foot projection of Itai Doron’s imaginative neural network. This is the body electric, and he sings with a vengeance. This is The Immaculate Stereoscopic Conception of Mr. D., 1993. Across town, in the impeccably Modernist White Cube, a more modest exhibition concentrating on Mr. D.’s primal media recollections is on offer. Titled “The Secret Life and Archaic Times of Mr. D.,” these close-to-puerile photomontages throb in unison to the Dockland’s beat of Doron’s inverted Global Village.

Episode I: We are on the threshold. As we watch Clive Crawford of the dance group DV-8 writhe to the beat of a different drummer, Grace Slick belts out her anthem to other leaves of grass. We all begin to sink slowly into the ooze of someone else’s bummer. Night descends—and the Warholesque eclipse that seems to be eternity’s breath is shattered by Mr. D.’s insistent cardiac superpositions. “Over the Shadows,” 1993, and White Rabbit Revival, 1991–92 (36 luminous silk-screened paintings in the manner of Andy Warhol and a videotape, respectively) are the interface that ebbs and flows over us like the surf over Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. We long to be engulfed, made oceanic and whole, by this consciousness of Doron’s but the props that embrace us distract us as well.

Episode II: What we have suspected and feared is true: the quickening pulse of Mr. D.’s life-force and mind-field signals the fragmentation and reduction of ours. Mama Cass is trapped in a plastic blizzard; looking for all the world like that last lump of flour refusing to disperse in our psychic vortex. No one can save her, but we can follow her gaze. Cass’s line of sight glances off Otis Redding, himself totally wired for sound. Asleep—or just meditating? or stoned?—in a crystal cradle, good vibrations are lovingly bestowed upon the infant Mr. D. But this is no luminous innocent child. Rather, an ersatz Übermensch whose intimations of immortality have been machined into his consciousness by countless exposures to a maze of silver screens. Mr. D.’s cinematic obsessions are reflected in the series of video loops screening interminably on the periphery of this cortical walkabout. All of us feel perfectly at home with Mr. D. on our head.

Episode III: Our worst fears—not counting our last worst fears—confirmed: the Übermensch is dead. Long live Mr. D. While we struggled to keep Mr. D. out of our heads, we were really lost in his. He is everywhere now—not stereoscopic as much as cybernetic. And everywhere we see and feel his pain. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The Little Shop of Horrors is The Eight Stigmata of Mr. D., 1993—a group of spacey plants bearing the strange fruit of the heads of Warhol. Genet, Dietrich, Fassbinder, and more. Upon this field of dreams will come a spacecraft, we are told. And all we can do is stand and stare. The rollicking mind of Mr. D., condensed and projected through the ether net, beckons. Mr. D. is a beacon guiding the craft home. But where and what is Mr. D.? The ubiquitous mass-culture chameleon ever renewing itself for us? A New Hope: Flew Over the Energy Field, 1993, and we waited and watched as the greatest story ever told—seeing ourselves through others seeing us—shattered our private languages into a trillion scintillating shards, and then to dust. The lexicon we thought was ours was never ours to think.

Exit: To the clamor of four hundred people trying to grab a beer. The bottles bore the legend that would snap us out of our rhapsody: “Tim Head—Whitechapel.” The message hit us like a fish in the ear; like some eons-old radio transmission lost in the cosmos, now molded to a sympathetically vibrating receiver. Don’t touch that dial in this salon; though a little fine-tuning couldn’t hurt, right?

Michael Corris