I was assigned to explore the book Trattato delle piante and immagini de sacri edifizi di Terra Santa by Bernardino Amico and finally become friends with it.
My first impression was that it will be a difficult friendship because the book is in Italian and dates back to the seventeenth century.
When completing Task one, I paid little attention to the content and drawings in the book. When we were given the task of physically examining the book, I only intended to do the task and not look back into the book until the next task. To my surprise, I stayed in the library much longer than I intended because I was amazed by the drawings in the book. What fascinated me about these drawings was the shading of the buildings. When I was working on my project work, I looked into the book again and again when I had to make a perspective drawing, because the techniques are easy to recognize and implement and at the same time have a very realistic effect. Without this experience in the library I probably wouldn’t have visited the online version again. Meanwhile I downloaded it and would say that we were friends before I even knew what the textual content was.
When we were given the task of translating the book, I was excited to see what Bernardino Amico would say about the drawings. But to my disappointment, Optical Character Recognition Technology (OCR) isn’t exactly the best when it comes to scans from books from the seventeenth century. But that was only the first step. The poorly recognized text also had to be translated into English so that it was understandable. Since there is a difference between Italian from the seventeenth century and twenty-first century, the digital translation was not exactly the means to improve our friendship. But that didn’t stop me from continuing to look at the pictures in the book.
I was able to understand the considerations to carry out the task “Text & image”, but what I found a pity was that the intention was to let the texts be analyzed by computers and to have the pictures described only by people. I would have found it interesting if the pictures in the books were fed to the computer and one could see what the drawings have in common, what types of buildings are presented how, what is the most common drawing technique in a certain period of time etc. The same also applies to the font and layout, which would also be interesting to see how they were dealt with over time.
But on the whole, one can say that I really benefited from at least one task (Task 2: Contact) and had an exciting experience. But with other tasks, I always had to try to drive away the feeling that I was doing someone else’s job that they did not want to do.
Nevertheless, I was able to gain insight into how many old books with beautiful drawings are accessible online. Therefore I am grateful for the knowledge I have gained and maybe I will even make more friends as soon as I give other older books time in the future.