Noli Tangere – on touch

Monika Bogdanowska


This paper discusses the issue of a physical interaction with the heritage of the past. Writing about monuments, the leading English theoretician of conservation John Ruskin stated that “we have no right whatever to touch them”. At the same time, the French restorer Violet le-Duc took a contrary stand encouraging his contemporaries to establish a creative interaction with the relics of the past. This controversy, which appeared more than 150 years ago, remains a key question – throughout history, societies claim their right to touch things motivating it in various manners. At the beginning of the 21st century, when traditional reality starts intermingling with the virtual world, we experience new dilemmas: do we really need physical contact with an authentic object if our perception can be satisfied by means of the multimedia? The human need for creation and experimentation may be realized outside physical reality. Perhaps it is the right time to resume the old dilemma. After all, we have the experiences of the 20th century behind and the pressing need to define our relation with historical objects ahead as long as we are willing to understand them. These ruminations will be illustrated with examples of the changing attitude towards the heritage of the past and such recent phenomena as commercialization or virtual reality.

Słowa kluczowe: theory of conservation, cultural heritage, philosophy of monument conservation-restoration

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