It is that moment when you start thinking about a friendship, and suddenly you realise it has been a year now. Time just went by, faster than we thought it would and you can’t imagine a time without that friendship.
It has been that year now, that I am friends with l’idea dell’architettura universale by Vincenzo Scamozzi. To be honest, at first I was not sure if I liked my counterpart. It speaks a different language, old Italian, is much older than me and when it comes to architecture we don’t always agree immediately. It knows an unbelievable amount and has a circle of friends that is just as well educated. Over time, I got to know it better and better and when we first met in the Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln I was fascinated by its charisma. Even if I didn’t always understand it, and we didn’t have much time together, I will always remember it. And when we meet again somewhere, it will remind me of my first year of study at the ETH and among all the books in the library it will never be just any book.
The “Friends with an Old Book” task seemed at first somewhat pointless and time-consuming to me. While completing the first task, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. Locating an ancient book, in a language I do not speak and its content far too complex to understand, for someone who just started studying architecture.
Visiting the Werner Oechslin library in Einsiedeln and having the opportunity to be in physical contact with the original book, was a rare experience wich clarified my confusion I had in the beginning. Normally, we would only have access to these books on a digital platform, which does not give you the same chance to establish a true connection to an object. I realised how holding the ancient book — heavy, wrapped in dark brown leather. Golden imprints on the spine and paper, yellowish-white that lived through hundreds of years — in my own hands totally changed my view on the task.
The OCR task, I have to say, was rather stressful for me, but through the process of using the software and waiting for hours with the outcome of single letters and meaningless words on the screen of my laptop, I realised that there is a huge effort put into preserving and digitalising old books. I learned what kind of effortful work is behind the data I can have easily access to, where and whenever i want to.
Looking back, I think “Friends with an old book” was an interesting experience, although I wished the focus would have been more on the synthetic friendships. The interaction between the books and especially how this task was created and how you explained it in the last lecture, was highly enriching for me. I would not have expected that such a creative task would emerge from an initially very factual approach. And if I knew from the beginning, what we’re going to create form all that content, i would have spent more of my time to thoroughly accomplish the previous tasks.