Postcards of the Past
An object retrieved from the past becomes an icon which stands for all of the past.
What is steel and iron and served a function as a navigation aid and warning signal receives added meaning. Now it becomes a central object around which the past can be gathered and given sense to. It represents permanence and solidity, an unquestionable affirmation that the past is made of such certainties, such blocks of clearly defined meaning. It becomes a way of mind navigation. Then the object itself is represented in a photograph, it is framed as if the stuff of history is neatly edged like building blocks.
The icon is placed within and against more general iconography, of sun and sky and water, all given cultural significance by agreements of meaning. A bird too ‘fits in’, perhaps suggests a short resting place before flight and movement against the wider backdrop of history. But it has to be ‘read’ so. There are many ways to see a picture. Or an icon.
The medium itself, the photograph, has been manipulated, made to resemble an older look of photography.
But the photograph nevertheless suggests something remarkable about an industrial object’s being salvaged from its function in the waves and storms of history, and made safe upon a promenade along which strollers may pass a while through a postcard of the past.