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.