February 27, 2015 4:00 AM EST

Natan Dvir headed for Times Square when he arrived in New York in 2008. But unlike the tourists he found there, the photographer hadn’t made the trek to pose in front of giant LCD screens. Instead, he was there, in his own words, to observe how it acts as a microcosm of the city as a whole.

“It’s like the very fabric of New York City is an advertisement,” Dvir tells TIME. “Times Square is an extreme example, but everywhere you go [in New York] people look like that are inhabiting a space dominated by advertising — whether it’s billboards or otherwise. It’s almost like they are pulled into a stage or a set.”

The images he shot that day — which were taken on a nearby section of Fifth Avenue — developed into Coming Soon, a long-term project that took six years to complete. Dvir says the work is an attempt to explore the relationship between what he sees as branded downtowns and the people who inhabit them.

“I’m fascinated by the growing branding of the cityscape, where the city becomes an advertising medium,” he continues. “For me, the street sort of merges with the commercial fantasy of the advertisements.”

Here, the imagery in the billboards seems to blend with the pedestrians walking beneath. Pedestrians that are seemingly unaware of the billboards behind them, despite their imposing presence. “They always seem to be in our peripheral vision,” Dvir adds, “it’s like they are there and not there at once.”

Natan Dvir is a photographer based in New York. His work has been published the New York Times, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and the Sunday Times, among others.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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