The Eye of the Camera Faces Backwards


McQuire, Scott., Visions of Modernity (London: Sage, 1998)


The status given to photographs as a material form of memory, and the deference to photography, film and videotape over other forms of record and recall, signals an important threshold of modernity.

If […] the key political struggle of the twentieth century is the struggle of memory over forgetting, the camera has been a crucial force in this contest.

If photographic images can become memory, they can equally be used to block memory.


The struggle of memory over the rule of death has always been anxious. But the contradiction between the massive technological apparatus of cameras and computers developed in the name of remembering, and the uncertainty and anxiety currently surrounding history and memory, has never seemed more acute. What photographs actually ‘preserve’ today is only the nostalgia arising froma pervasive and irretractable sense of loss.

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