Picturing 700 years of history Charting political and social relationships from the Statuti Sassaresi, a XIV century manuscript statute-book
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In 1316 the town-republic of Sassari issued its ‘Statuti’, a collection of regulations describing the city’s legal and administrative matters. Although the contents of the document vividly present many traits of the city’s XIV century’s life, the original form in which it came to us – in Latin and vernacular Sardinian – make it very inaccessible to the general public. In the 700’s anniversary of the Statuti the local Historic Archives started a vast dissemination project involving us on the grounds of our expertise in communication design. Over the following year our research unit was engaged in the production of an experimental informative platform in which various artifacts – three animated short films, an illustrated booklet, and a website, among the others – explore ways to enhance the degree of accessibility of such an important historical account to the general public. A key step along this process was the understanding that as different users have varying abilities in processing the available information, to provide actual access to it implies varying degrees of interpretation of the text per se, which clearly raises questions of historical accuracy. This brought to the development of a model in which a series of artifacts based on various degrees of ‘proximity’ – and therefore of interpretation – to the original text, can represent different access points for the understanding of an otherwise very inaccessible text.