Reviewing my yearlong relationship with “I quatro primi libri di architettura” seems strange since I remember not knowing anything about my book and being overwhelmed with the tasks at first. But now I can say that I’ve come closer to understanding the contents and purpose of my book.
At a first glance I thought I was extremely unlucky with my book. An Italian author whom I’d never heard of, with a book from the 16th century seemed impossible to analyze. There was very little information findable on the internet, and no German version of the book available.
My first encounter with the book was very helpful. In the library I was able to look at the original which was great for getting a feel of the book. The pages which had turned yellow, the handmade drawings and the amount of work put into the details of the book made me realize what I was working with and gave me respect for the book. It also showed me that creating a book in the 16th century is something completely different than creating a book today. A librarian was also very helpful. He explained the importance of the book to me. I realized that the book was actually more popular than I had thought.
I came to the realization that on the internet there was a lot of information about my book in Italian, and that searching for German results had restricted me. When going through Italian pages and putting them in google translate I managed to learn more about the book. Mostly the points the author makes about military structures and fortification buildings became clearer to me when looking through these texts.
Another task that brought me closer to the author was the text scanning task, where I scanned some pages and let a program translate them. It was hard to read since the scanning software had problems with some of the old writing but it showed me the way Pietro Cataneo wrote and the way he articulates himself. Scanning and translating an old book is powerful technology which I hope I’ll use again in the future.
The last task forced me to “become” the book: The final step of becoming friends with an old book. I wrote dialogue from the perspective of my book and characterized it to fit the conversation. Turning my book into a character was a very interesting thought experiment and helped me boil down what my book was really about: Simple polygonal structures in buildings related to military defense. His ideas were inspiration for many architects to come and have surely had influence on some of the buildings we know today.
In conclusion I can say that the tasks have not made me understand my book word for word, but have brought me closer to the author and the time he lived in. They have also given me new tools which I will surely use in the future to analyze texts that could help me in my architectural work.