Lines and Lions: A Bridge that Roars in Four Directions
Vancouver's iconic Lions Gate Bridge sports two colossal lion statues at its entrance. Or so most folks think. There are actually six lions, if you know where to look. That's because, like some sort of Möbius surface, the bridge improbably crosses itself from above. The other four lions don't sit so tall, though they command a higher vantage as they guard the lesser-known, non-identical twin of the Lions Gate Bridge. This lesser bridge offers the perfect view of the greater one. Standing upon either structure and gazing upon the other, one can say with certainty that Vancouver's most famous bridge spans four directions: N.N.E. to S.S.W and E.S.E to W.N.W.
Studying a map of the Lions Gate Bridge[s], things begin to get mysterious. A leonine determination seems to be at play, and it's not a mere trick of the eye or a figment of one's imagination. We see lines on the map seemingly declaring their own will, and this is in fact a curious phenomenon studied by scholars of art. When a line crosses itself, it "becomes more than a means toward an end," as acclaimed art historian David Rosand explains. "[I]t insists upon its own role as protagonist ... even asserting its own creative independence. ... As Matisse recognized, 'One must always search for the desire of the line, where it wishes to enter or where to die away'" ("Time Lines," Moving Imagination, 2013, p. 210). And so we're left with the sense that even if the bridge architects had intended upon just two guardian statues, the lions yet dictated their own story -- a story with twists and turns and with six of their species.