Modernism in industrial capitalism was born with a strong sense of repudiating the past as an anachronism that needed to be dumped into the trash to make way for the progressive new art. If the trash became the archive of the past in an era of increasing instability and rapid social change, then the camera became a device to represent and preserve the fragments of the past. It could back the tide of oblivion.
What is new in the economy is continuously replaced by evacuations, demolitions, removals, temporarily vacant lots and new buildings. Since the early 1960s, in the metropolitan centres of Australia , city fabrics largely inherited from the nineteenth century are being overlaid by the twin development of the freestanding high-rise and the serpentine freeway.
The everchanging shops result in the old being so completely displaced, that the old appears as if it never existed at all. So the past is dislocated from the present, and with the cultural forgetting, our history becomes a series of fragmentary memories. Forgetting is built into the very capitalist process of the modern production of urban spaces and the repeated destruction of the built environment.
If the camera promised to be perfect memory machine for preserving the past, it also corrupted or destablized the positivist objectivity of vision by exposing the partiality and mutability of its own supposed clear and distinct representations.
We are left with memory traces---eg., Kodak's golden memories--- that enable our identity. These traces are important for to be without memory is to risk being without identity.