Graphic Documentation Systems in Mural Painting Conservation



(unpublished  introduction)
author Giancarlo Buzzanca

The classification criterion of this Bibliography is the alphabetical one. The objective is to bring together the books, articles and all the other documents that have been written on the topics of the survey and its relative return, with a particular in-depth study of computer-aided graphic documentation regardless of the vector-based or raster approach -based. Such publications are often difficult to find because they are often inserted in different contexts.

The bibliography is presented in an absolutely provisional form. It is useful work material for distributing and sharing knowledge. After the days of the seminar this bibliography could collect and incorporate all the texts that will be indicated in the bibliographies attached to the various papers and which, in particular, will be indicated by the participants. At present the bibliography contains an excessive number of experiences and articles in Italian that will be further selected in the final phase.

The final form could also be the electronic one in order to facilitate searches and queries.

The bibliography also includes in some cases the indication on the placement of the texts in the libraries directly examined (ICR, ICCROM, Getty Center) as well as the possible availability of the text on the web itself. Some texts, among those mentioned, are available only on InterNet. In the final edition for all the texts their availability will be indicated also in other libraries, if this were proposed.

The catalogs of the Iccrom and Getty libraries can be accessed on the Web at and respectively.
(in 2019 both the links are not active)

The computer-assisted documentation needs some decoding: with this objective the small manual of BESSER and TRANT were written where the basic concepts of digital image processing are explained (the meaning of terms such as pixels, raster, dpi, scanner etc. …) and the text of BORTOLOTTI that focuses more on applications, explaining the operation and applications of the main raster processing softwares. In the field of vector-based applications, the text of DE PAOLI provides a clear explanation of the possible principles, tools and applications. The softwares manuals are, then, the necessary complement to all these texts.

Survey, relief and practical rules for the complete drafting of papers are treated in a group of texts (mainly addressed to architectural restoration) whose main authors are CARBONARA, DE ANGELIS D’OSSAT, DOCCI, GIULIANI, MARINO, SAINT AUBIN, SWALLOW and WATT.

The first two texts have a specialist character decidedly oriented towards architectural restoration; both texts come from the School of Specialization in Restoration of the Monuments of Rome. Particularly interesting are the notations on CARBONARA about the style of graphic rendering starting from the construction sketch. GIULIANI and MARINO propose two real manuals complete with all the specifications for the execution of a topographically determined relief before and a graphically correct return after. Both of these texts are eminently practical. GIULIANI is an archaeologist and one of the recognized masters of the Scuola di Topografia Antica di Roma. The texts of SWALLOW and WATT are rich in examples and addressed to the survey and to the survey and in particular that of SAIN AUBIN which stands as one of the best manuals for consultation.

In Italy the technical administrative rules for the execution of the works are expressed in the Capitolato Speciale di Appalto  (Special Procurement Statement) drawn up by a group of researchers from the Faculty of Architecture of Rome on behalf of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali  (Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities).

From the NORMAL COMMISSION other documents arrive: one is official and is that relative to the Lessico delle alterazioni macroscopiche dei materiali lapidei (Lexicon of macroscopic alterations of stone materials) which bears an appendix concerning the graphic documentation which, although reduced to a few practical examples, constitutes a document “leader” that finds an important precedent however, in the VAROLI-PIAZZA proposal and in the VEDOVELLO text.

At the international level, proposals concerning the need for standardization of graphic and lexicon signs come from some ICOM conferences, starting from the 80s, where in particular the interventions of BOGOVCIC and ZVEREV can be read. In the 90s in Germany there are a large number of experiences in this direction and the need for a definition of both the graphic sign, the type of screen adopted and the definitions in the vocabulary of the restoration is strongly felt even today if BAGLIONI publishes an article that it is essentially composed of large graphic tables and proposes (in raster based software) a clear (and complete) articulation of the graphic symbols and their relative graphic restitution.

The text of CAVEZZALI and GORINI, PARIS, RISSOTTO also come from the NORMAL Commission. The texts are examples of two different ways of conceiving the drafting of thematic maps for wall paintings.

The first text is born from the courses held at ICCROM: the rules for drawing up the graphic drawings attempt to classify the phenomena to be detected in relation to their graphic expression. The documentation form is designed to be written by hand directly on site.

The ICR text is characterized by greater rigor and finds its theoretical complement in the observations of GORINI and SACCO regarding the techniques and methods of restitution.

There are no texts that contain an organically expressed “theory of documentation in restoration”. FANCELLI speaks of it extensively with a language, however, convoluted and difficult to read even for Italians. SACCO recently attempted to write a guiding text that defined some principles of the discipline, going beyond the “architectural” vision of the building.

NARDI has the great merit of having published in 1992 in a magazine specialized in conservation a text that describes the realization of a complex graphic documentation performed using AutoCAD. In the poverty of precedents and of ad hoc publications the text acquires, in the Italian ambit, a reputation higher than its content.

It is sufficient to compare the entire production of the Center for the study of Architecture (EITELJORG) and, principally, the two monographic issues of the APT BULLETTIN which describe many of the techniques of digital recording of images, of relief performed by computer, of preparation of a database etc … implemented in North America in recent years. The first text is from 1990 and the second from four years later. Particularly active is a group of detectors associated with ICOMOS Canada that develop digital digging techniques, relations between databases and detected graphical entities, etc. that focuses on the figure of NICKERSON. From the same geographical area there are attempts to rationalize and standardize the file and layer naming techniques. In this regard, the text produced by the AIA is an example of exceptional relevance since, from that date, all the international norms that deal with the subject have this document as a starting point. Some attempts have been made to translate these same precepts in the field of archeology (EITELJORG).

A series of articles treats (BRYAN, GODLA AND MANY OTHERS) the application of raster based computer graphics for thematic mappings. Among these are some diploma theses (BAUGARTEN, RYAN).

Within ICCROM some experiences have been made both in terms of graphic documentation and in terms of hypermedia documentation. Data-bases related to geometric entities (FERRAGNI, MALLIET) have been experimented with simplifying the use of CAD softwares and the relationship between different classes of data (BUZZANCA)

Among the examples realized, ORRÙ’s thesis cannot be omitted, as it was the first to be performed in ICR by drawing up the graphic documentation directly to the computer.

It would be possible to indicate many other articles that deal with or present the graphic documentation performed with CAD. The Computer Applications in Archeology conferences have, in the last few years (at least since 1989) an inexhaustible mine of experiences, comparisons and suggestions. The conferences are held every year in a different city, mainly in the Anglo-Saxon area but with stakes in Denmark, Romania and Spain.

Some journals have dealt with the issues of conservation relevance and the issues of the adoption of advanced tools for the preparation of documentations with monographic issues. In France, in 1996 and 1997, conferences were held dedicated to the use of information technology (in particular multimedia) in the documentation.

Many texts cited in the bibliography are contained in the proceedings of these conferences. Some of these articles deal with solid modeling.

This is one of the applications that requires a high level of definition of the basic graphic elements. It is not possible to adequately represent the model of any object if the physical characteristics of the object in question have not been accurately and without redundancy.

A note is due to two journals: Archeologia e Calcolatori and  Bollettino d’informazione del CRIBECU di Pisa.

The first magazine is published by the CNR and its director is MOSCATI which, for years, has been dealing with the relationship between information technology and archeology. All the issues of the magazine (10 to date) contain articles of absolute interest in the field of computer science eidology applied to archeology and contain a complete and updated bibliography, year after year, on what is written on these topics. As regards the field of archeology, they are therefore the most complete of the catalogs.

The second journal is produced by the Centro di Ricerche Informatiche per i Beni Culturali, (Center for Informatics Research for Cultural Heritage) of the  School of Specialization of the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa.

A source of information is the bibliographies themselves. The ones included in this bibliography are not few, starting from BALLAST that already in 1988 traced an exhaustive picture on the use of the computer, although not expressly limited to the field of conservation. BARBOSA DE ALMEIDA, DE TORRES, DOCCI, PETRIE and THORNES include rich bibliographies in their texts. None of those mentioned is expressly a bibliography dedicated to the problems of documentation but all the texts have large sections dedicated to these specific themes. NURCOMBE and PARKER intervene precisely on information sources for architecture and conservation with a user-friendly manual (edited by Nurcombe) which provides a useful framework for those who are not experts in the field of conservation.

The Geographical Information System represents the field to which all the documents that do not wish to remain statically anchored to the object and at the time of their writing seem to be addressing. BOX endeavors to explain, on behalf of ICOMOS, the operation and applicability of GIS techniques and technologies in the world of heritage conservation and management. A rich bibliography is included in the text. An even richer bibliography can also be found in the PETRIE which proposes a bibliography annotated on GIS applications. It is a theme that has seen a great deal of specialist contributions since the early 1990s. Many of these articles refer to happily realized attempts to use CAD softwares for the purposes of GIS. (eg GALANOS, HECKES, LOWE, ROMANO, TORSELLO, VARLJEN)

A final area is that dedicated to regulatory and standard proposals in the field of file and naming layer techniques. In this sector there are a large number of experiences that almost all come from the field of civil engineering. From the institutional (and conceptual) point of view, first of all the ISO standards and those of the British Standard Institution can be mentioned. From the point of view of the concrete application of the standards we note the proposals of some of the major US clients such as the army, the administrations of the universities or the municipalities. In all these cases, a file naming technique is proposed that helps to structure the information in a clear manner, so much so that all these administrations provide files or models to conform to. In the United States, work is being carried out centrally on a harmonization to define a national standard applicable to all areas of construction (including restoration). But except for the examples of EITELJORG there are, to date, no concrete applications in the field of conservation. An article by BUZZANCA at the ART 99 congress supports the need for a strong standardization applied to this sector, with particular reference to the needs dictated by the thematic mappings.

This list does not directly address the problem of photogrammetric recovery and all documentary techniques for diagnostic purposes, because the first is a very specialized and detailed area while the second opens horizons that refer to physical and chemical sciences rather than to graphic documentation . In any case, the quotation from CARBONELL and FORAMITTI cannot be omitted, also because they are two exemplary texts published by ICCROM and of enormous diffusion.