As traces left behind by the last two hundred years of profound historical change, architecture and photography contribute both to our contemporary skyline and to our image of the past. Their common history thus provides an indispensable background to every discussion of what has been called the contemporary past - that is, to modernity considered as an open problem rather than a closed historical period. Architecture can be seen as a kind of macromodernity, a social scope where the diverse discourses of modernity have assumed their most large-scale form. In analogy, photographic media constitute a micromodernity, where the underside of modern society has been registered, identified, classified, and archived. In both cases, we trace out the irregular borderline between the discursive and its opposite, the material. At this point of intersection, an interesting confrontation between traditional academic historiography and an artistic application of historical perspectives might be staged. What contribution can architecture and photography make to the exploration of our contemporary past? Victor Buchli, in his afterword, underlines the potential of such confrontations: Translation always betrays the original intention, but what might be described as the infelicities of the translation that are inherently treacherous are precisely what constitute its productive capacities.