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Friday, September 14, 2007

Text decay 


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I began photographing these corroded gateposts a while back. But it only occurred to me when I heard about Tim Wess’s work - which is looking at ways of dating and preserving ancient parchment - that I realised how fascinating the whole area of text decay can be. Tim uses a technique called ‘synchrotron radiation’…. and that sounds like serious science. Apparently, scrolls suffer a lot of wear and tear at the beginning an end – in other words just where they are most frequently handled. In contrast I think the text decay on my gateposts is just down to the elements. Recently, working on the second edition of an article, I tried to access the original stored on one of those 3 inch floppies. When I finally located the disk drive I found I still couldn’t access anything readable. I suppose technically speaking that’s not text decay – it’s inability to access the information that creates the text, but the net result is the same. Anyway as we move into the area of text repair there’s all sorts of ideas around, including treating CD scratches with bananas.

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