Mapping by Residuals of Consumption: the City’s Unconscious

Yuji Agematsu

Walking among crowds, I encounter the multitude and always think that every single face is a face that I have never seen before; it is the first time and the only time. In the same way, I pick up things from the street, anything, as frivolous and useless as a piece of hair, to pebbles, to a dollar bill soaked in dirty liquid, and each time, I enjoy the encounter with a totally new species. I put them carefully in my bag as if they were treasures, asking the objects: Who the hell are you? Where are you from? What are you for?
      In cities--and especially here in New York--both you and I, all of us, are unknown to each other. It is likely that we have individual measures of value and live in different ways. Features of the city, or its moods, are in total flux; they are too amorphous and heterogeneous to be generalized; they change too illogically and in too disordered a way to be predicted. In the heterotopia, people speak of the same events in totally different, unknowable manners. Their lips move in varied ways.
      This herd of distant observers forms the city and animates it. Certainly I am one of the crowd. How many years has it been since I began to walk around the city haphazardly paying attention to the objects that are here for X reasons?       I walk around the city during the night, too. The empty streets have a feeling akin to a beach when the tide is low. The objects are left where both big and small waves of the consumerist society have ebbed; people call them rubbish, waste, trash, and so on, which nevertheless talk to me, even eloquently at times.
      Let me walk some more, after the intersection. The pace and speed are constant, feeling that I am in good condition, as if my body were floating. When my brain is stimulated by the orange of the streetlight, even the dark night sky begins to shine, while the rubbish, waste, and trash transform into the treasures of the world.