Daniel Barrow in action (photo: Sonia Yoon)

While mainstream animation keeps trying to look ever more realistic, Daniel Barrow is a dab hand at keeping things as simple as possible. Since 1993, the Montreal-based artist has been performing his famed “manual animations” using little more than outdated overhead projectors, CD players, live narration and slide projectors to create complex narratives through comparably simple techniques of layering and manipulating his own drawings by hand.

Now, the prestigious $50,000 Sobey Art Award-winning Barrow will be sharing his techniques and performing as part of the long-running Visiting Artist program in UVic’s Visual Arts department. His free talk and performance begins at 8 pm on Wednesday, February 22, in room A162 of UVic’s Visual Arts Building.

“Helen Keller in the Scuplture Garden,” from the 2008 performance “Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry”

Barrow, last seen locally as part of Intrepid Theatre’s 2009 Uno Festival, has performed and exhibited widely in galleries and festivals throughout Canada and around the world. As both an image-maker and live performer, he has developed a personal visual language over the past 20 years that draws mixes imagery from the cultural and digital past with emotional, usually melancholic, content.

As the 2010 Sobey jury panel said, “Over the past 15 years Barrow has created a unique, self-sustaining fictional world composed of drawing, storytelling and manual animation . . . [and] his virtuoso performances awaken a sense of empathy in the viewer. Wry, politically astute, and strangely heartbreaking, his comic narratives address love, loss, gender, and media culture. The crux of Barrow’s practice is the problem of how we are all obliged, in order to proceed with our lives, to continually strive to better ourselves and the world around us, in ways misguided or not, transforming the abject into the sublime, heartbreak into redemption.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear and see one of Canada’s top artists in action. Daniel Barrow is only the latest in this year’s Visiting Artist program (still to come this season are author and noted visual art writer Lee Henderson on February 29, and acclaimed New York City artist Allan McCollum on March 21). Designed to introduce both students and the general public to some of the top artistic talent at work in the visual arts field today, the Visiting Artist program regularly brings in acclaimed national and international artists working in a variety of mediums.