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Toronto Moments in Time: Then vs. Now

Toronto Moments in Time is a photography project merging the old with the new. Photographer Harry Enchin takes modern-day photographs and seamlessly stitches them with analogue photos from the City of Toronto Archives. We had a chance to speak with him - Read on to see what he had to say about this interesting photography idea!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I was born in Guelph, Ontario and at an early age, I was indulged by my parents with an “old school” wet darkroom with the usual setup – enlarger, trays, etc. I always had a camera as a teenager and adult, but it actually wasn’t until recently, in my late 40’s, that I decided to devote significant effort to a project which has resulted in several showings at juried exhibitions much to my pleasant surprise.

I have enjoyed photography for my entire adult life which included capturing images at family functions. I also recorded my travel experiences in places such as the former Soviet Union, Spain, France, UK and ecotourism in the remote Pantanal region of Brazil. I find it ironic that the subject of the work I have come to be known for is my home city of Toronto, when most of the photography I have done as an adult has been across the globe.

Where did the idea for Toronto Moments in Time come about?

I have been inspired by the work of others notably that of the photographer and psychologist, Shimon Attie. In the early 1990s, Attie projected wartime Holocaust era images from the Berlin Archives onto buildings in then modern day Berlin. This was well before the era of Photoshop, so he captured the composite projected images with slides and without computer manipulation.

My work has progressed over the last year in that I have advanced – from relatively elementary combinations of “then and now” where the collage is a combination of images bisected left and right for old and new – to a process whereby I interweave elements of the old and new and digitally combine them in a collage at the same time as offering associations and social commentary for the viewer.

We love the “then vs. now” theme with your masterpieces. In your opinion, how do you think these vintage images compare to the images of today?

The vintage images, especially those from high quality glass negatives from 80-100 years ago, are amazing. They are far better than the images from the technology we had when I grew up in the 70’s.

In your Artist Statement on your website, it was mentioned that these “Moments in Time” deal with memory loss. Can you elaborate on that for us?

Many years ago, I went for a drive in the city of Toronto with my mother to revisit the neighbourhood in which she grew up, the west end “Junction” neighbourhood of Toronto. There was obviously great change in what we observed since it was several decades after my mother had lived there and the family home was long gone. This trip stuck in my mind resulting in a desire to do something that would merge the “old” and the “new”. In recent years, my mother developed dementia including a loss of memory which furthered my interest in bridging the gap between “old” and “new” and evoking memory through art.

What do you see is the most powerful message portrayed through these images?

We are part of “time” – a continuum that started before us and will last long after us.
The city in which we inhabit has seen many changes – some for the good and some not so good – hopefully the TorontoTRANSFORMED series will help to communicate some of those changes and in doing so link the past to the present.

Do you have any new “Moments in Time” projects coming up? Or any new photography projects in general?

I would like to continue my photo-based art with collages. I can envision myself creating new works based on my travel experiences and would love to create works based on cities like New York and London. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!

Since we are all about analogue photography, we’d love to know, do you shoot with film? If so, what is your camera and film of choice?

I haven’t shot film in several years but my next project may involve a vintage SX-70.

Where can we see your works exhibited next?

I am currently looking forward to an upcoming solo exhibition at the Steam Whistle Brewery’s historic John Street Roundhouse building, just south of the CN Tower, during the month of November – this will be a great historic venue in which to showcase the transformation of Toronto. The Opening Reception will be held Wednesday November 7th 7-11pm.

All photos and info via Toronto Moments in Time

For more information on Harry and Toronto Moments in Time, check out his main website

written by ashleyaang

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