The drawing is on the wall

Lawrence Bird and Video Pool Media Arts Centre put an end to their mid-life crisis

’drawing Room at Video Pool Media Arts Centre

Keeley Braunstein-Black

Convertibles and comb-overs can never truly sate the desire to live twice as hard for what half you have left. Art, conversely, is always worth more than the time it takes to enjoy it.

On now until May 31, ‘drawing Room is the latest exhibition at Video Pool Media Arts Centre (VP), and a significant one at that. As the centre wraps up its 40th-anniversary celebration, which they’ve dubbed the “Mid-life CrisisTM”, ‘drawing Room represents the final stage in the process: withdrawal.

“What we’ve had is a whole series of residencies, some parties, exhibitions all sort of focused around the 40th anniversary,” Emma Hendrix, the executive director of VP, says. “Part of it was we wanted to build a time capsule, so at the end of the anniversary, we would have not just celebrated, but we would have materials that we could keep for (the) future.”

Following a call for submission centred around the idea of withdrawal, Hendrix got in touch with artist and architect Lawrence Bird after a chance meeting at a conference in Colombia.

Bird was intrigued by the opportunity to delve into the VP archives and explore space in the exhibition while connecting personally with the overarching theme.

“One thing that interested me was that I’m in a mid-life crisis. I’m a little older than 40,” he says. “I’ve done installations before, and I’m always looking for this intersection of architecture and digital image.”

Bird describes the show as a “space between media and architecture,” created by the play of light over material. ‘drawing Room is interactive in nature, giving Poolside Gallery visitors the opportunity to draw on the walls and alter the digital projections cast on them.

“You feel really drawn to enter into (Bird’s) space. Old equipment, cables, projections ... it feels like you’re walking into somebody’s space when they’ve just stepped away for tea,” Hendrix says.

Bird was granted access to VP’s film and image archives, as well as a bevy of obsolete equipment, and aspired to a holistic experience that mirrored VP’s original collaborative philosophy.

He attributes additional inspiration to Sputnik Architecture, a former employer that allowed him to cross over between film and architecture with their public art projects.

“Video Pool is called that for a reason. It harkens back to the wheat pool and to the idea of an agricultural collective. I reached out to the artists whose work I was drawing on,” Bird says. “VP is imagined as a sort of shared endeavour, a collective or co-op almost.”

Both Hendrix and Bird encourage visitors to engage with the finely crafted multimedia display, either physically or emotionally, that simultaneously celebrates VP’s past, present and prospective future.

“Get engaged, get involved in the project. Don’t be afraid to touch it, and don’t hesitate to get in there,” Bird says. “I’ve touched on this idea of really feeling like you’re a part of it. I find there’s a real sense of ghostliness in the piece, being a part of the past and a part of the present at the same time,” Hendrix says.

‘drawing Room is on display from now until May 31 at VP’s Poolside Gallery (300-100 Arthur St.).

Published in Volume 78, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 28, 2024)

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