By Daniel Barrow
October 17th, 2009
When SHAW cable purchased Winnipeg’s local cable station VPW, a rumour was circulated that SHAW had destroyed the public access television archives and were systematically dismantling the public access services. Shortly thereafter, Daniel Barrow began researching, compiling and archiving a history of independently produced television in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In the late ’70s and throughout the 80s, Winnipeg experienced a “golden age” of public access television. Anyone with a creative dream, concept or politic would be endowed with airtime and professional production services.
A precedent that went far beyond standard television formula was set in the late ’70s when the infamous Winnipeg performance artist Glen Meadmore sat in front of a television camera and silently picked at his acne for 30 minutes each week in a program called The Goofers (later The Glen Meadmore Show). Winnipeg Babysitter traces this and other unique vignettes from a brief synapse in broadcasting history when Winnipeg cable companies were mandated to provide public access as a condition of their broadcasting license.
Because, the local public access archives were destroyed programs could only be found in the VHS collections of the original producers. In cases when these producers did not save their own work, Barrow had to rely on television collectors, fans and enthusiasts. In this regard, Winnipeg Babysitter is an archival project that restores a previously lost history.
Daniel Barrow travels to each screening providing an overhead projected commentary/context, tracing the histories of public access television in Manitoba, and describing the various and outrageous biographies of each television producer and personality. Winnipeg Babysitter is a program that requires 2 screens: the video projection on a main theatre screen, with Barrow’s hand crafted, overhead-projected liner notes on an adjacent, smaller screen. This style of commentary is deliberate; it is less intrusive and more respectful of the video images than a voice-over. In this regard, Winnipeg Babysitter is also a documentary, curatorial, and performance project.
Survival (Greg Klymkiw and Guy Maddin 1982-87)
Features Maddin’s earliest recorded performances
Metal Inquisition (Fearless Pig and Terrible Dog, 1986)
Delirious Photoplay (Myles and Drue Langlois of the Royal Art Lodge 1999)
The Pollock & Pollock Gossip Show (Natalie and Ronnie Pollock 1986-89)
and many more.
Winnipeg-based artist Daniel Barrow uses obsolete technologies to present written, pictorial and cinematic narratives centering on the practices of drawing and collecting. Since 1993, he has created and adapted comic book narratives to “manual” forms of animation by projecting, layering and manipulating drawings on overhead projectors. He variously refers to this practice as “graphic performance or manual animation.” Barrow has exhibited widely in Canada and abroad. Barrow is the 2007 winner of the Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton award and the 2008 winner of the Images Festival’s “Images Prize”. Barrow is represented by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto.
Filed under: lecture, video