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Subject: Architectural drawings

Architectural drawings

From: George Brock-Nannestad <pattac>
Date: Friday, July 9, 2004
On behalf of Delphine Hannoy and Helene de
Tourdonnet, Karen Potje <kpotje [at] cca__qc__ca> writes

The following is posted :

>    We hope someone can help us to take decisions about conservation
>    treatment:  Should we re-adhere the detached windows?  With
>    what adhesive?  Should we dismount the partially detached
>    windows and re-adhere them?  If we reattach deteriorating
>    cellulose acetate windows will they will inevitably continue to
>    shrink and become unstuck again?.  Also, what are recommended
>    storage conditions?

The questions asked relative to the restoration of the
"architectural elevations" are highly relevant,  however they have
been given out of a context.

If I understand correctly, we have a sheet of drafting film
(probably a polyester), upon which we have not only lines in India
ink (or rather, the type that would adhere to polyester film), but
also parts that have been applied to the surface. In this context,
what might constitute conservation?

One of the fundamental questions in applying "Operational
Conservation Theory" (which I was pleased to present during the 2003
Annual Meeting of the AIC) is "what is the purpose of the
conservation?". To what extent do we want to restore/preserve
*function* and to what extent *information*?

In the present case, what was the *function* of this type of
architectural representation? It could not well have been to prepare
diazo process prints, because the coloured plastic would not have
given a proper print. It is hence likely that the drafting film was
only a support for a representation having some haut relief effect,
to be viewed directly. The windows may or may not have been brown
(do you not really mean orange as in colour negative film?), but it
is equally likely that they were originally clear. I expect this
artefact to have been meant to be stored flat, not rolled, if not
just to be displayed in front of a well-illuminated surface, i.e.
for display, not storage.

The proposals for action have different effects in the
*function/information* representation of the artefact:

    *   "re-adhere completely detached windows": will maintain the
        artefact in a dilapidated state, but the deteriorated window
        material will be put in its proper location. The
        *information* that the artefact will provide is actually
        less than at present, because it will become more difficult
        to obtain a sample of the window material for analysis, and
        furthermore, the adhesive originally used will now be
        completely inaccessible for analysis

    *   "dismount partially detached windows and perform complete
        re-adhesion": the same result as above

A proposal based on my perception of the original *function*:
remember that you can only preserve that, which you are already
conscious of.

In the present case I have believed that the *function* of the
artefact was to represent some building in a documentary capacity,
not to be a work of art in its own right. For this reason it would
be justified to restore its capacity to represent, and so to give
back the embodiment of the idea of transparency by providing clear
windows.  Hence:

    *   obtain samples of the "yellow and hard glue" and preserve
        them in a vial. Remove all existing detached and partly
        detached windows and preserve them (in a light blocking
        envelope attached to the artefact or an accompanying file).
        This means that *information* of part of the artefact "as
        found" has been preserved. Replace all missing windows with
        clear polyester foil attached by means of a releasable
        adhesive. A step further would be to remove all windows and
        replace them. However, then the deterioration would not be
        immediately demonstrable, and this particular demonstration
        might be desirable in another context. This leads to:

    *   "what is the future *function* of this artefact?"

And this is where my own guessing stops.

George Brock-Nannestad

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:7
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 13, 2004
                        Message Id: cdl-18-7-001
Received on Friday, 9 July, 2004

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