That translating software isn’t quite there yet

Vince Michael is a friend of mine and also the director of the graduate program in historic preservation at the Art Institute of Chicago. Vince attended the speech I gave at the Forum Luncheon on the last day of the National Trust conference in Nashville. He wrote a series of blogs about Nashville and the conference and included some very kind remarks about my speech.

Well some computer somewhere picked up Vince’s blog, and apparently translated it into some unknown language and then back into English. Then it was posted on a site called Live Journal.So below I have pasted the first four paragraphs of Vince’s blog each followed with the Live Journaltranslation. The latter is in italics. You couldn’t make this up for a Saturday Night Live skit.

Heritage Conservation, not Historic Preservation

The final event at the National Preservation Conference in Nashville was a lunch featuring speaker Donovan Rypkema, a longtime preservation contributor whose specialty is the economics of historic preservation. Don always has numerous inspiring insights, and this presentation was no exception. His focus was preservation in 50 years, and it was a call to action that called for significant change. I agree with 99 percent of it, and here is why.

Heritage Preservation, not Historical Saving

The last event at the Subject Saving Conference in Nashville was a dejeuner featuring utterer Donovan Rypkema, a longtime saving subscriber whose metier is the economics of historical saving. Don e’er holds numerous inspiring penetrations, and this presentation was no elision. His centering was saving in 50 geezerhood, and it was a call to action that named for important modification. I concord with 99 pct of it, and here is why.

First, Don talked about the recent and virally successful “This Place Matters” photo contest which the National Trust held on its website (link on the right). The event was standard 21st century user interface: people print out “This Place Matters” signs from the Trust, and photograph them in front of places that mattered to them. Then people voted on their favorites. It was an exercise in the democracy of the built environment, and it was a revelation.

Firstly, Don spoke about the recent and virally successful “ This Spot Matters ” photograph competition which the Nt kept on its site ( nexus on the right ). The event was standard Twenty-first century interface: people publish out “ This Spot Matters ” marks from the Trust, and snap them ahead of spots that interested them. So people voted on their favorites. It was an exercising in the democracy of the constructed environment, and it was a revealing.

It was a revelation because, as Don pointed out, almost all of the finalists were NOT monumental buildings in the traditional sense of historic preservation. They weren’t outstanding architectural landmarks or the homes of famous people. The winner was a Humble Oil station in San Antonio, second place was a boathouse in Door County, Wisconsin and third place was a graveyard with a sailor holding the sign near a gravestone. But the effort was a huge success, because PEOPLE were deciding what PLACES mattered to them.

It was a disclosure because, as Don showed out, about all of the finalists were NOT monumental edifices in the traditional sense of historical saving. They were n’t outstanding architectural landmarks or the places of illustrious people. The victor was a Humble Oil station in San Antonio, 2nd spot was a boathouse in Door County, Wisconsin and tertiary spot was a necropolis with a crewman maintaining the mark near a tombstone. But the attempt was a Brobdingnagian success, because PEOPLE were determining what Spots interested them.

Don took this as a call for preservationists to reestablish the relationship between why something is important and how we preserve it. This is so true and so important. For too long, we have used curatorial procedures designed for fine art museums to determine how we treat elements of the built environment. Treating the Humble Oil station or the Door County boathouse like a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt is not necessary or even useful. There are physical elements of those properties that need to be maintained, but so does their relationship to their environment. In fact, their connection to PLACE is what is MOST IMPORTANT. It is similar to the philosophy of the historic district, where individual significance or individual artistry, elegance or craftsmanship are subservient to the whole thing. The whole thing is a PLACE, and it is what is most important.

Don took this as a call for preservationists to reinstate the relationship between why something is important you bet we uphold it. This is so true and then important. For overly long, we hold utilized curatorial processes planned for art museums to find how we handle elements of the constructed environment. Handling the Humble Oil station or the Door County boathouse like a Vincent van gogh or a Rembrandt is not necessary or even utile. There are physical elements of those belongings that involve to be kept, but so makes their relationship to their environment. In point of fact, their connectedness to Spot is what is MOST IMPORTANT. It is similar to the doctrine of the historical dominion, where single significance or single art, elegance or craft are subservient to the whole thing. The whole thing is a Spot, and it is what is most important.

Well, thanks, Vince, for the kind words.

And you computer geeks out there writing translating software – you might have a bit more work to do.