A Geology of Vision

To read Anton Wagner reflexively means to engage with his Los Angeles not as a product of its historical context, but a refraction of our own.

If—like most Angelenos—you only ever drive by, you might never notice him slouching at the top of the stairs descending from the southeastern edge of Olvera Street, that counterfeit heart of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula. Day after day, a club-grade speaker by his side blasts ’90s R&B at the loveless scene below: the mission moderne Union Station—built atop the buried Tongva village of Yaanga, now a living cenotaph to passenger rail in California—and its wasted forecourt longing to unite with the pueblo’s central plaza but for the heavily trafficked Alameda Street. Should you, however, approach on foot or on a bike, you’d be sure to hear him first; then, your eyes would trail the luscious sound to his exact spot. Passing through this artery day after day in a rhythm closer to the languid tracks he pla…

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