Current Obsession: time-warp photographs that blend Toronto’s past and present
Amateur street photographers are the trainspotters of the digital age, chronicling their favourite intersections, skylines and streetcar routes for an army of fans on the web. The nerdiest form of urban shutterbugging is rephotography, in which the locations of archival photos are reshot to show how an area has changed over time. Toronto’s Harry Enchin gives the genre an extra-nerdy twist: instead of simply updating archival scenes, he picks a photo he likes, positions himself in the same spot as the original photographer, then meticulously combines the old and new photos so that the two eras commingle, and derby-hatted pre-war gentlemen find themselves sharing the sidewalk with skater dudes. Enchin began this ongoing labour of love a few years ago, after a drive through the Junction neighbourhood where his mom grew up got him thinking about the endless mutability of urban spaces. By day, the 53-year-old Enchin is a VP at an email software company; he makes his art on weekends. What began strictly as a hobby has snowballed. The work has already been featured twice at the Contact Photography Festival, and he hopes to expand the idea to other cities (though he has no plans to quit the exec job anytime soon). The images he creates are sly and surprising, and act as a subtle commentary on a city in the grip of reinvention, when today’s row of dilapidated low-rises can quickly become tomorrow’s gleaming condo towers.
Harry Enchin: Toronto Time
Akasha Art Projects, 511 Church St.
Sept. 7 to Oct. 5