When you first presented the concept of “Friends with an old book”, I had some major concerns about how this should work. While completing the first task, my doubts grew even bigger, because my book “l’antichita di Roma” by Andrea Palladio is handwritten in Italian, without any illustrations, so I could not connect in any way with the Text. I got quite frustrated while searching information related to this book and the work felt unrewarding and unnecessary. What is this all about?
I felt this way until we visited the Werner Oechselin library in Einsiedeln, where I was able to get physical contact with my book. I love books and being able to get in touch with one of these rare, old, and precious pieces was a great honor. Although I did not enjoy the first task, I was now able to connect at least in a physical way with the book. Its content was still a secret, but the structure gave me some clues about what the book could be all about.
Quite optimistic, I went into task three. Thanks to my good research in task one, I’ve already done most of the work, so it was a quick thing to complete “Lineage”. But sadly, the good vibes of the visit to Einsiedeln were slowly fading away, because there was nothing new added to my friendship with “l’antichita di Roma” for quite some time. It felt like loosing touch witch a person you didn’t see in a long time.
Heading into task four, I began to struggle again. Describing the illustration of a book without any images proofed to be quite difficult and running an OCR program over the text didn’t help gaining knowledge about the books content either. This felt disappointing, because I had high hopes in the English translation of the book, that I could finally understand the topics Andrea Palladio was talking about. But the text was nearly unreadable for the OCR and the whole book put out only a few hundred understandable words.
Finally, the last task arrived. Taking on these old books as a team was quite fun. This little sneak peak of the work of my fellow students was interesting and it felt good to see, that they have dealt with the same struggles as I did. I’m not sure if we all really captured the essences of our books but creating an imagined conversation of the authors was still a very pleasing exercises I truly enjoyed it.
In conclusion, it was journey with up and downs. I find it quite difficult to connect to a book u can’t read. I know that this is somehow part of the whole “Friends with an old book”, but I have wished that there would be more task, which lead towards some knowledge about the content. Searching all the different versions of the book for example felt quite exhausting, while physically visiting the book was interesting. But overall, I genuinely enjoyed the work with my text. I think it’s an inventively way to front first semester students with the craft of architectural History. Sometimes, the tasks were just a little bit to theoretical and dry in my opinion. Mix in some more fun stuff like Task 5 and everybody would enjoy the work way more.