What Happens When Our Rules Conflict Themselves?

Reading through these many philosophies of preservation/restoration/conservation/etc.ism it becomes clear, or rather not clear at all, where these ideas overlap not only with each other but also with themselves. Boito, in his interview, starts off simply enough, comparing (and mocking) Villolet-le-Duc’s ideas of “arranging [the monument] so that the new seems ancient.”  He then takes on a main critique of this, authenticity. Using loaded and emotional words such as ‘liar’ and ‘cheat,’ Boito takes the attitude of someone who has been personally slighted by someone or thing that has changed the narrative of this monument without care for others. I would argue that taking this attitude is fine, so long as understanding that, like a palimpsest, there remains a ‘true’ form that exists behind what one sees today, or tomorrow, or in one hundred years. I found myself sympathizing with the second character in the Boito reading, who was punished with Boito’s mocking for the simple crime of trying to find an answer.

Cesare Brandi, in his writings, does touch on the concept of time, but by only using two points (that of creation and recognition) it ignores so much of the structure that it does a disservice. Decay, and the reasons for decay, are important events in the life of a building/monument/artifact, so where do they fit in the narrative? Nothing in an artifact is static, even if it may seem that way based on scales of time. The fact that preservation is even a field of study shows it has meaning (and this implies some sort of action be considered and taken), and I wonder which of these authors for this week would consider certain options worse that doing nothing at all. But if the best solution is to do nothing, it must also be justified.


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