Art, Love, Death, Beck

No easy way to break into this tragic story first thing in the AM, but hey it involves music so pull up a chair morbid technophobes! Newsweek has a profile — an extended, investigative obit of sorts — about Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, a relatively young, artistically successful, and ultimately suicidal couple who designed Beck’s Sea Change cover and later crawled into a dark ‘n’ demented corner of their minds — because the only connection they had to reality (and other people) were their computers. And because we know you’re too busy tending to your email and IMs to read the full article, here’s the Cliff’s Notes!

Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan seemed like the perfect couple: beautiful, talented, successful and deeply in love. But beneath the idyllic surface is a darkly modern tale of obsession and paranoia fueled by instruments of a digital age. Duncan and Blake built their lives around computers and the Internet, using them to create innovative art, prize-winning video­games and visionary stories. But as time progressed, the very technologies that had infused their work and elevated their lives became tools to reinforce destructive delusions and weapons to lash out at a world they thought was closing in on them. By the end of their lives, this formerly outgoing and affable couple had turned cold toward outsiders. They addressed friends and colleagues from behind electronic walls of accusatory e-mails and confrontational blog posts, and their storybook devotion to each other slowly warped into a shared madness?what is known as a folie à deux. ?This wasn?t who they wanted to be,? says Katie Brennan, a Los Angeles gallery owner and long­time friend. She compares the couple?s late-life delusions to ?a kind of terminal cancer? that overtook the true Jeremy and Theresa.

Good times. The two met during a design for an award-winning video game (Theresa writing, Jeremy animating), and went on to create a critical acclaimed art instillation which lead to all sorts of cool career stuff — like being asked by Beck to design the Sea Change cover.

That was the same year Paul Thomas Anderson had them design a sequence in the Sandler flick Punch Drunk Love. Things started going south in Theresa’s career while Jeremy’s was taking off, though, and Theresa got paranoid. Or just maybe the Scientologists were involved in a vast plot to thwart and destroy her career. She claimed the reason the free stress test loving religion was after her was ’cause she had first-hand info that Beck intended on leaving the faith, which made her ?priority No. 1 for their paranoid and dangerous security wing. (A spokesperson for Beck denied to NEWSWEEK that the exchange ever occurred, and a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology called Duncan?s allegations ‘absurd.’).”

So she did what anyone would do when frustrated with reality: She started a blog. The blog (called ‘The Wit of the Staircase’) was about all sorts of art and interests, but it also allowed her a place to mount a case against the Scientologists. But eventually her frustration and paranoia got the better of her, and she killed herself. Jeremey came home to find her, and after a few weeks of being on suicide watch, he left a note, went for a swim, and never came back. He couldn’t live without her.

So the moral of the story? Don’t become a Beck fan. And if you do, don’t start a blog at some point there after! The combination of the two can be fatal. Hi Mom and Dad.

Oh and by the way: “A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.”

Tags: Beck