What residue is left behind when the structures have disappeared?
A history is kept, and when people learn that history, it becomes a translucent film through which they view sites and objects and structures. As new historical information is uncovered we make changes to that film; as the landscape is cleared and rebuilt there is a new canvas onto which we project what we know of the past. There is a bread-crumb trail to indicate what took place here: geological indicators of how the topography was formed, the evidence of glaciers or flowing water, the changing plants and animals that occupied this land, followed by the first people who hunted here, followed by people on horseback, then on wagons, then on locomotives, then on highways.
But there is an individual, emotional history – its locus in my memory, conjured in pictures and smells and feelings. I am a point on a time line, but I’m also a branch on a tree that stretches back in time further than kept records. There are bound bundles of paper – my family’s documentation of their migration and their joys and sorrows – left for me along the way, to be decoded and interpreted and remembered. I add those to the film through which I see their old neighborhoods in my own city, the places they built and inhabited.