Thoughts: old photographs as memorials

Lately I've been looking at a lot of old photographs (1914 - 1950s) of the neighborhood I now live in, Frankford, or more specifically, Northwood, a very early "suburb". The one above is an example, and appropriately enough, of a neighborhood memorial:

Some rudimentary thoughts on the power of photographs as icons; and how that function as icon differs depending upon your point of reference around that photograph:

For the young (who were not there): the photograph is an icon of largeness; how much they don't know about the scene, the time, the context, can be found in this image; every detail trucking a vast sense of newness; of awe, even (in a weird reverse).

For the old (who were there, or in the represented time): the photograph is an icon of smallness; how small a slice of the richness of living, of actual life in this pictured time, or some parallel place; every detail reminding them of how much has changed; how much has been lost - both actually and in their memory - a truckload of details of oldness lost; of the smallness of their new.

For the photograph (bridging the gaps of time; functioning as the hub around which perceptions spin): it is a complex icon, trucking both old and new; its new possibility is a crossroads at which communication and discovery can still be made; relationships and understanding can be fertilized by it: the old can become a new new; the new can be remade in the light of the old...distinctions can become less important; time even may begin to fade a little.

Benjamin F.  – (Thursday, 06 September, 2012)  

Details reveal context, especially in photography. It is important to capture as much as possible because the photographer doesn't know what might be important due to details that may not exist in the future.

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