Some elements contribute to the definition of this research project; Analysis of approaches, points of view and experiences in the documentation standard and de facto documentation activities from institution in Europe and USA[1] using a Web based database.  Definition of Computer aided documentation terminology and identification of a common glossary between providers and users, consultation of GCI Library, research in the past and current field project archives. Project of a web based best practice database. New experiments for computer based graphic documentation for conservation

This is a more detailed definition of the research project’ steps.

  1. analysis of approaches, points of view and experiences in the definition of documentation standards and de facto documentation activities  from institution in Europe and USA. The institutions focused in the analysis using bibliographic resources (the list is subject to better definition) are or should be:

Europe: Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Italy); Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (Italy); Courtauld Institute of Art (Great Britain); an institution to select in France and/or an institution to select in Germany

USA: Getty Conservation Institute (USA); New York University, The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts  (USA); University of Delaware – Art Conservation Department  (USA); School of the Art Institute of Chicago  (USA).

The hypothesis is that the institutions listed have different approaches[2], points of view and experiences in the documentation standard and de facto documentation activities. The purpose is to understand what they have developed in this field, analyzing activities, practices, projects.

  • evaluation of the results of the researches about recording and documentation standards, practices, and upgrade of the bibliographic content contained in:
  • GraDoc (Graphic Documentation Systems in Mural Painting Conservation – 1999)
  • RecorDIM (Recording, Documentation, and Information Management – 2003 – 2007)
  • Bollettino dell’ICR” n°5 2002 (editors Giancarlo Buzzanca and Francesca Piquè) published in 2004. A monographic issue  on Digital Documentation.

This is a short description of the initiatives:

  • GraDoc (Graphic Documentation Systems in Mural Painting Conservation)
    On 1999 was held in Rome, at ICCROM “GraDoc ” Research Seminar organized by  ICCROM and coordinated by Werner Schmid  with the participation of 23 international specialists in graphic documentation in the specific  field of mural painting conservation and, of course, more general question about documentation of cultural property. The objective of the complete bibliography – a my research product – was to collect the titles of books, articles and other text references on methods and means of graphic documentation, with a special focus on computer-aided applications. A work in progress useful for distributing and sharing knowledge. The GraDoc bibliography need to be reviewed adding all the production of the last decade.
  • RecorDIM (Recording, Documentation and Information Management)
    Between 1995 and 1999, a series of outreach workshops held by the CIPA[3] has identified critical gaps in the fields of heritage .Recording, Documentation and Information Management. In response ICOMOS, GCI and CIPA together created the RecorDIM Initiative partnership to bring information users and providers together to identify the nature of the gaps between them, to develop strategies to close the gaps and to recommend a framework for action to be coordinated by the RecorDIM Initiative. But a fact is that no one of the curators was an expert in worksite computer aided recording and documentation. The necessity is, now, to develop a bottom-up approach
  • Bollettino dell’ICR – Monographic issue on Digital Documentation
    Necessity of an upgrade of the content of the monographic issue on Digital Documentation in “Bollettino dell’ICR” n°5 2002 (editors Giancarlo Buzzanca and Francesca Piqué) published in 2004.
    The Dossier puts forward a view that is first methodological, then historical, before turning to some case studies, and finally pointing out guidelines for experimentation. The Dossier seeks to explore how and in what way advanced technologies for digital documentation can influence and bring about changes in the approach to documentation as a discipline. In particular, attention is focused on the relationship between the users as well as the providers, suppliers and computer documentation specialists who are fully aware of the potential of this new technology.
  • requirement of a review and analysis of actual  documentation standards, practice and bibliography

Two are the steps in this phase of the project. The first one is based on the understand using monitoring and controlling activities to obtain a review and analysis of actual documentation standards, practice and bibliography.

The activity of the Documentation staff in some institution active in the conservation field should be analyzed, classified and archived in a web using Web based archive.

In this phase the hypothesis is to realize a web site based on a CMS able to produce open data..

This analysis phase should be realized in:

  1. GCI – Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles – USA)
  2. OPD – Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Florence – Italy)
  3. ISCR – Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro, formerly ICR – Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (Rome – Italy)
  • new experiment for computer based graphic documentation for conservation

The second part of the research is concrete and practical because centered on the customization of the documentation software used in documentation practice from the conservators that is needed from two closely related points of view. In fact, the standards achieved with the first part of the research must be dropped in the actual documentation activity so that they don’t remain pure style exercise but fully pursue their function of homogenizing the documentation processes.

A persistent problem in graphic documentation, produced digitally, has been the absence of widely accepted standards. Consideration was also given to a consistent way to name separate layers in the CAD drawings. Standard naming for CAD layers is well defined in the areas of architecture and construction and in a number of related fields. These standards define a convention for naming the layers of data in AutoCAD files. An example would be one name for a layer, showing biological damage, and another for cracks. As digital documentation becomes increasingly used in the conservation world, the need for standards in this area becomes critical. But, while digital recording is becoming increasingly popular for conservation documentation, a serious limitation in use of digital condition reporting is the lack of autonomy of the conservator in exploiting the potential that the digital documentation makes available.

Generally, the condition survey is still carried out manually, and only at a later phase, often when the conservation intervention has already started, is it finally made available in digital form. This “translation” is, often, made with the help of a computer technician, who has never seen the site. The ideal system, then, should allow the conservator to enter condition information directly into the computer, on site, preferably without the help of a software expert.

The problem is to design a customized program, which the conservators could use with little training. In the past this approach has been used for the Siqueiros mural restoration with excellent results. The leap of quality is represented here by the introduction of GIS technology. GIS has more powerful capabilities than CAD. While CAD programs are excellent for measuring and calculating linear features and areas, they have a limited capability in linking attributes to these features. GIS software, not only is able to assign attributes and link databases to graphic features, but it is also able to find and calculate relationships between features, that are not immediately apparent. While, for example, a query such as, “find the percentage of areas with moisture, where there is also biological growth”, is very difficult to answer using CAD in a GIS environment, this is routine, to the point that more sophisticated queries can be introduced, in which time is a component, and even the prediction of phenomena.

It is useful to test such models in the implementation of a fully integrated digital documentation system, where all of the information concerning the site is stored. By taking full advantage of the capabilities of GIS, the condition survey should be taken a step further, to identify statistically significant relationships between recorded conditions. At that point, the adoption of a Computer aided graphic documentation for conservation, for recording the conditions of cultural property, will accomplish the objective of providing precision and rapidity of use, together with diagnostic applications.

[1] A reference point are the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the  American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (AIC) and especially the group of commentary,  on the documentation:  24: Documentation, 25: Documentation of Examination, 26: Treatment Plan, 27: Documentation of Treatment, 28: Preservation of Documentation. The project have the goal of translate in standards for the computer aided documentation the commentary of the code of ethics (with a particular attention on the new rules for the digital documentation)

[2] for cultural, historic and technical reasons

[3] International Committee for Documentation of Cultural Heritage