MICHAEL AWAD at the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West), to February 26. $8, stu/srs $5, Wednesday 6-9 pm free. 416-979-6648. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
When obsolete technology makes a comeback as an artistic medium, you can always expect surprises.
Using an old aerial reconnaissance photography technique, Michael Awad captures long unbroken stretches of the city that freeze minutes into single moments in ultra-wide panoramas. A digital version invented by artists allows him to shoot for hours.
Wandering through a large supermarket with the digital version rigged in a briefcase, Awad captures a complete visit from parking lot to checkout, aiming the camera at the shelves as he passes by.
Arranged in a rectangular frame containing 16 thin strips, the photo, viewed from 2 metres away, resembles a particularly colourful cross-section of sedimentary rock.
If you were at the Eaton Centre last Boxing Day, you might very well find yourself among the thousand or so bag-laden and junk-food-chomping people he caught on a perpetually packed escalator.
Awad shot the entirety of Queen Street's north side, from the Humber to the Don, on an early-morning Sunday drive worth poring over.
Moving vehicles squish into smart-car proportions while the street is caught in impressive detail, bright signs and red brick against blue sky. Everyone knows at least a stretch of this road, a fact that provides entry into the photo's self-contained universe.
For sheer aesthetic beauty, the architecture teacher's tribute to Henry Moore's corporeal sculpture stands out. The only one of the six images in the show created entirely on film, it tracks a winding path through the AGO's Moore collection, bending time and space in a warm light.
All told, it's pretty astonishing as a first solo exhibition. As Awad explores new ways of shooting and showing the results, expect this project to grow in both depth and scope.