They were all in small hangars, all closed. We unlocked the back doors, turned on the lights, and I thought “Oh lord, there’s a spaceship.”
Six aboveground lines (S Bahn) and three underground lines (U Bahn) converge at Alexanderplatz, creating a constant flow of traffic throughout the morning. “I am looking for a situation where there is no gap, the more people the better,” he tells me. “There are only a couple of spots in every city that can provide that sort of crowd, and this is one of them.”
Magyar and I hop on the U2 and travel one stop to Rosa Luxemburg Platz, then cross the platform and catch the next train heading back to Alexanderplatz. In the crowded car Magyar fishes the apparatus out of his backpack. The gray aluminum camera body, adapted with viewfinder, hand grip, and cables that connect the device to his laptop and battery back, looks like a prototype cobbled together in a backyard garage. Red and green lights blink as he aims the lens through the window “I’m always getting asked, ‘Did you make this yourself?’” he tells me, as commuters gape in curiosity. Minutes later, we rumble into the station, and Magyar begins taping. It is all over in twelve seconds.
We stand and wait four minutes while the eight gigabytes of new data download to his laptop. (During his road trips he typically carries two hard drives that together can store three terabytes.) Magyar studies the procession of beautifully lit faces that he has extracted from the twelve-second blur, and pronounces himself satisfied. He shoots hundreds of hours of video to obtain the results he wants; one of his favorites in the series, shot in 2011 at Alexanderplatz (see video), serendipitously captures, in the background, two little girls loping along the platform. Their graceful movements contrast with the stillness of the commuters in the foreground—a jolting reminder that that the image one is witnessing is not a photo, but a stretched-out moment—what Magyar calls “in-between time.” “Those girls were a real gift to me,” he says.