“We are able to see just a narrow angle, whatever we do."
January 9, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

It was not the first time that Adam Magyar has had to explain his work to mystified observers. Born in Hungary in 1972, Magyar began taking pictures in his late twenties, roaming the streets of Asian cities and capturing images of Indian street vendors, Hindu holy men, and Himalayan students. His work evolved rapidly from conventional documentary photography to surreal, radically experimental imagery that reflects his obsession with finding innovative new uses for digital technology. A self-taught engineer and software designer who assembled his first computer while in his teens, Magyar captures his images using some of the world’s most sophisticated photographic equipment, modified with software he writes himself. Additional code, also of his own design, removes nearly all distortion, or “noise,” from his data, producing images of remarkable clarity.
posted by the man of twists and turns (18 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

I love the images, but oh god I hate this kind of pseudoscientific handwavy nonsense:
Stainless consciously calls to mind the realm of theoretical physics, with its references to the thought experiments of Albert Einstein. Magyar’s stationary camera aimed at a moving train bears echoes of Einstein’s hypothesis that “distant simultaneity”—the idea that two spatially separated events occur at the same time—is not absolute, but depends on the observer’s frame of reference. In a famous thought experiment, Einstein imagined two observers—one standing inside a speeding train car, the other on a platform as the train moves past—who perceive the same flash of light at the exact moment that they cross paths. The passenger in the train sees the light strike the front and the back of the train car simultaneously; the stationary bystander sees it hit at different times. Similarly, Magyar warps time and reveals the subjectivity of human perception: His line-scan camera transforms a speeding blur into a frozen image of impossible clarity and stillness, a reality imperceptible to both passengers speeding into the station and bystanders waiting to board the train.
There is just no conceptual relationship, whatsoever, between the Einsteinian thought experiment and Magyar's photo. The only thing that relates them is the fact that Einstein used a train in the example. Had he used a horse and cart or an automobile, the author would never think of drawing this parallel, which shows just how utterly empty it is.
posted by yoink at 12:52 PM on January 9, 2014 [10 favorites]

Thanks !
posted by nicolin at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2014

yoink: "I love the images, but oh god I hate this kind of pseudoscientific handwavy nonsense

This. 1 of these pictures = 1000 words. Or many, many more.
posted by chavenet at 1:05 PM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

These are so so amazing. The most compelling work I've seen in a long long time. Thank you!!
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:21 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Watch for the girls in Alexanderplatz.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:32 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

-------Very lovely result of excellent tinkering.---------

posted by tilde at 1:55 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why on earth did you use dashes instead of tildes for that? What a wasted opportunity! Eponymity fail.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:16 PM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wouldn't have matched the pictures. And might have upset my not so evil twin.
posted by tilde at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Alexanderplatz platform (in Berlin) has a food outlet selling "Asian Fine Food". Because nothing implies a fine Asian dining experience like the use of English. But they offer a "nudelbox", so there's that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:52 PM on January 9, 2014

> There is just no conceptual relationship, whatsoever, between the Einsteinian thought experiment and Magyar's photo.

I'm gonna call you out on that. In a narrow sense, I take your point. But be aware that our understanding of what physics is, and is about is evolving, and a full picture will necessarily include an improved understanding of what and who we are and how we fit in.

He employs a measurement device that is "objective" within a common-sensical Newtonian time frame. The things you see are the things that change during the time scale of observation. Look how "we" pop out! This is great raw data that allows us to construct narratives based on the most candid representation I have ever seen.

This does not deliver truth or relieve us of our obligation to negotiate our understanding of things. But most of the contents of our lives are filled with things that are rather linguistic than Newtonian in character. Institutions, religions, the filled substance of lives of value and experience. How should we understand the relation between these and the world revealed by measurement? This is a question worth addressing.

Compare the resolution of this measurement (for this is a measurement instrument) with the baroque but unstable fancies we have built in developing a flaccid psychology based on measurements as impoverished as reaction times, forced choices, and blood oxygenation levels.

I would love to see this take very seriously indeed.
posted by stonepharisee at 4:49 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that the writing is over the top, but my god. That Berlin subway video blew my mind. Especially with the sound. So beautiful! I feel bad for the woman immortalized with her mouth full, chewing in the artwork.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:43 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The images and the video is all utterly gorgeous. This is the world as we--literally--don't have time to see it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:04 PM on January 9, 2014

Gorgeous, thanks for posting
posted by abecedarium radiolarium at 7:24 AM on January 10, 2014

I'm gonna call you out on that. In a narrow sense, I take your point.

Look, if all he'd done was gesture vaguely towards the theory of relativity and the importance of the idea of frames of reference that would be fine. But he's trying to pretend that there's some specific analogy between the artwork and Einstein's thought experiment about the train--and there simply isn't.
posted by yoink at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2014

Wow! That video. I kinda want it to be used in every action movie...
posted by Strass at 3:24 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just had my own magyar epiphany. Yes indeed quite stunning work.

I understand how the stills are done, but the video footage eludes me? Anyone? O see that it is very slow motion, but it must be a long-ish lens other wise he would be walking right in front of the subject? Is he across the platform with a scanning to digital video device, I am a cameraman by trade and still having a hard time wrapping my head around it??

posted by silsurf at 9:25 PM on January 15, 2014

posted by silsurf at 8:09 AM on January 16, 2014

In Motion
posted by homunculus at 2:59 PM on January 20, 2014

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