EVERY TIME I SEE YOUR PICTURE I CRY Created and performed by Daniel Barrow. Presented by Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage and IMAGES Festival at the Brigantine Room (235 Queens Quay West). Thursday to Saturday (Thursday April 10 - 12), 7:30 pm. $15. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
You probably haven’t seen an overhead projector since you last sat in a classroom passing notes to your friends and sticking wads of gum under your chair.
That’s just fine with Daniel Barrow. The Winnipeg-based multimedia artist wants his live shows, most of which use that overhead projector, to tap into those childhood memories, subtly manipulating your emotions.
“I like the intimacy the format evokes,” he says on the phone from Winnipeg before the debut of his latest piece, Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry, at Harbourfront’s World Stage. “I started by creating these parody lectures, and gradually they became more narrative-based, using shadow puppetry and cinematic techniques.”
In Every Time, Barrow narrates a story about a garbageman who prowls the city at night, spying on people and sifting through their garbage to put together a comprehensive book including each citizen. What the garbageman doesn’t know, however, is that he’s being tracked by a serial killer, who proceeds to kill off all of the people in his book.
“I don’t know much about actual serial killers,” he points out. “But serial killers in movies interest me because they’re almost always depicted as artists. They all have signatures and artistic egos. They all have a shtick.”
Barrow’s own shtick has matured since he first slapped a Mylar transparency onto the brightly lit platform of an old overhead projector. He layers images and plays with texture and composition. One part of Every Time is designed to parody a classic sequence from John Carpenter’s horror classic Halloween.
“Everything’s transparent, so that’s part of the challenge,” he says. “Parts of the scene are in focus, and parts aren’t. I had to construct a second layer using a de-stringed tennis racket suspended above the projector to get this blurred effect.”
Not surprisingly, Barrow also makes straight videos, many of which have screened at festivals like Images, which is a co-presenter of the current show. One of his notable recent videos was all about rebuilding an archive of old cable-access tapes after a huge media giant had bought Winnipeg’s local cable station.
Discovering what format a piece will take is an ongoing issue. Video or overhead projector? Or book?
“I continually wrestle with that,” he says. “Right now I’m working on my next story, and I don’t know the format yet. When you’re an artist working in Canada, you kind of have to make these decisions reasonably early, because you need to know where to apply for funding.”
But lest you think Barrow is all high-irony hipster cool, check out the Snowglobe section on his website (www.danielbarrow.com). Strangers seeking healing and wellness send him photos, and he inserts them into one of his gorgeous drawn snowglobes so readers can send “positive, peaceful thoughts” to the person in the picture.
“I wanted my website to have a spiritual component,” he says. “I’m totally serious. There’s no irony. I really want good wishes for these subjects.”
Additional Audio Clip
On why there are so many great artists coming out of Winnipeg: