Computer and Eyedrops, by Daniel Barrow, 2008. Original drawing from Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry.
In Daniel Barrow’s Every Time I See Your Picture Cry, the overhead projector is liberated from its usual role in tossing static images onto a surface. A kaleidoscopic parade of illustrations flow across the screen, as revolving overlays keep limbs and other objects in constant motion.
The piece revolves around an eye infection–prone janitor who sketches his neighbours to create his artistic masterpiece: a phone book that captures their lives and personalities, as in a neighbour who resembles “a gay Boo Radley.” The narrative structure and style are reminiscent of This American Life, down to the section breaks and the instrumental background music. Sadness dominates the presentation, from tales of bullied classmates to the struggles of the protagonist in dealing with the confusion of his life. Barrow’s illustrations and narration are densely packed with intimate details that range from amusing to heartbreaking. The level of intimacy may be uncomfortable at times, but the recognition of our frailties and glimmers of hope keep the proceedings from growing too maudlin. The level of detail is such that if your concentration is distracted by the visual over the audio and vice versa, it is easy to follow along (other than one element of the ending, which may confuse, depending on whether you interpret it literally or metaphorically).
If only the overheads in school had been half as alive…
The next performance of Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry is tomorrow at 8:30 p.m.
SummerWorks runs until August 16 at various locations around the city. Check back for Torontoist’s daily coverage throughout the festival.