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Urban Image

The Urban Imagery of Adam magyar, the Slow Motion of Quotidian (Video)


Adam Magyar records the events of the urban world from the busiest subway stations, and he shows us the flow of a river that seems to not move with the current.

As a part of his project Stainless, Hungarian photographer Adam Magyar filmed the arrival of the subway train in one of the busiest stations in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, the 42nd station in New York and the Shinjuku station in Japan. He then changed the films into slow motion and showed the world his own take on the urban lifestyle. What moves of course are the lights, which blink like ghosts at the end of a tunnel, and what we hear is the trains’ movement while the unmoving people remain paralysed in their exiguous solitude.

Perhaps playing one of his videos on a full-screen mode while you slip into a slumber or while you draw or write is eerily appeasing. All the different people appear to be stuffed and motionless and the thoughts that went through their minds, at that moment, as the statues that define humankind. The complete gallery of gestures —or at least its categories— is displayed through a horizontal black and white video as if these were everyday effigies. Magyar, the artist behind the Stainless, the subway series, explains:

An endless row of living sculptures brought together by the same subway line, the same direction, the same intention of taking the train to get caught and carried away by the urban flow. All their motions slowed down, they are graceful and stainless holding their breath waiting for their train to pull into the station.

The most complex aspect of watching these videos is that the viewer must sit still and simply watch as the flow of life passes before his or her eyes; an exercise comparable to that of meditating and allowing thoughts to have their natural flow without evaluating them. Magyar himself once spent six months studying the flow of the Varnasi River, the ancient Hindu capital of the Ganges, with the purpose of training himself in the Tao of circulation. Stainless, as the name suggests, does not rust because it is constant movement. The horizontality suggests the passing of time. The moment you see something it ceases to be there, it belongs to the past.

The black and white of the sequences is essential in order to avoid a carnival appearance; instead it shows us images through a melancholic filter in a story where everyone is going to the same place, a type of death perhaps. Either as an exercise to practice stillness and reflections or as a means of aesthetic appreciation, each one of the minutes of this series are put to excellent use.

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