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8th Avenue

2003 - present
Jimmy Akagawa

“All of life is a journey. What I see is the process not the result.”

I arrived in New York City in 1999 and have since always carried a video camera wherever I have gone, recording my perspective of the city.

In the winter of 2003, I started recording on 8th avenue at 33rd street. On the northeast side there is a tall building with a large, exposed brick wall. It is suitable for murals and commercial advertising. On that day there were two men suspended by wire from the roof painting a mural on the wall. I remember being impressed by the size of the project and wondering what they were painting. That was the first time I recorded that spot.

After that, I was there each time the wall was repainted. Commercial art stays on this wall for about 2-3 months, sometimes longer depending on the sponsor. These advertisements chronicle and reflect the times. I followed the changes for twenty years.

Along with the painters, I recorded the pedestrians and vehicles on 8th Avenue. I wondered where these people were coming from, where were they going? What were they doing and thinking about as they passed by in all weathers through the seasons? They were living those in- between moments between the large or small “events” in their lives.

These in-between moments are so commonplace and utterly forgettable; crossing the street, getting in a taxi, standing in the rain with an umbrella while waiting for the lights to change. Yet they may be some of the most peaceful moments before they become engaged in the more tumultuous experiences of their lives. These in-between moments are precious and worthy of capture and archive.

It is these people who passed by my video camera, for just a few seconds, that have marked the time between 2003-2022. I found myself more intrigued by life and the progression of time.

It may be the relationship between the past, present and future. As soon as I have pressed the record button, the present is already in the past and the future is about to become the present and shortly the past. It makes me recalculate time, so that the Past is before I was born, the Present is my lifetime, and the Future happens after I am gone. The future will be here soon.

This may be the impulse that drives me to continue to record the times. My desire to witness and celebrate a few ordinary moments in the lives of regular people. The calm before the storm. It is perhaps my romantic, idealistic view of the present and my gift to the future.

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