Special Issue co-edited by Ines Weizman and Jorge Otero-Pailos
Future Anterior invites essays that explore the relationship between copyright and preservation from a historical, theoretical and critical perspective. Both copyright and preservation laws are aimed at protecting unique human achievements, but they point to different, even opposing threats. Whereas copyright is meant to protect private interests from public encroachments, preservation mostly aims to safeguard the public interest against private forces. But as the categories of private and public are redrawn under the pressures of globalization, what challenges and opportunities lay ahead for preservation?
Both preservation and copyright law attempt to answer a basic question: Who has the right to make a copy? This question has a long but unexplored history within preservation. Carlo Fea, the Italian neo-classical jurist and preservationist, passed laws to forbid overzealous collectors form taking original sculptures from churches and using poor replacement copies as payments for cash-strapped priests. But as copying techniques improved, it became common to place copies outdoors and to move original works of architecture and sculpture inside museums (think of the copies that replaced the original capitals of the Doge’s Palace, or the replica of Michelangelo’s David in Piazza della Signoria). These days, preservation and copyright are both challenged by new modes of digital production, which put new pressure on the notion of absolute authorship and ownership.
What makes mechanical architectural copies so interesting is that, even though they emerge at the same time as reproductions in other fields, they escaped the same association as representative phenomena of modernity. Yet, just like the print, the photograph, the film or the digital file, architectural copies are a product of architecture and a media form in themselves, part of an endless series of ‘aura-less’ multiplications. Legal scholar Bernard Edelman has shown how in nineteenth-century France photographs were at first considered to be mere mechanical reproductions of reality, and hence in the public domain. It was only when photography became accepted as an artistic practice that it received legal protection and ‘the real as object in law [became] susceptible to appropriation, sale and contracts’. To what degree does contemporary art still serve as the measure and instrument for the regulation of copies? Can copyright law help explain the opposition to consider preservationists as artists, or even authors? Essays may investigate these questions, as well as critically analyze modes and practices of appropriation in preservation as they compare to other fields.
As the production of architectural copies is becoming more digital, networked and diffused, we are witnessing more aggressive legal attempts to control the right to reproduce architecture. As Winnie Won Yin Wong wrote (Future Anterior 9.1) recent legal attempts to define “trade dress” signal an attempt to regulate, not just architectural form, but also ambiance and atmosphere as property. From the perspective of preservation, which relies heavily on design guidelines to implement legally binding decisions, what is the future of aesthetic regulation? We welcome essays that explore how objects (and specifically architectural interiors, buildings and cities) have been and are today presented, discussed and contested (in court, or other legal debates) as a dispute over authorial, private or public property.
In preservation, intellectual copyright is hard to define and regulate – harder than in most other arts. Its potential scope is also overwhelming, implying that almost every gesture in the construction of space would have to be protected. What sorts of architectural and urban copies are subject to copyright? If copyright is the right to copy, replicate, duplicate and receive the financial benefits of this act, could one argue copyright law in fact enabled architecture to be copied, replicated, mass produced and exported across the world? How did the circulation of copies help or undermine the idea of preservation in-situ? How could the history of national and international copyright laws inform that of modern preservation?
Future Anterior invites papers from scholars in preservation and its allied fields (juridical studies, architectural history, art history, anthropology, archeology, geography, political science, urban studies, and planning) that explore these and related questions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
Future Anterior is a peer-reviewed journal that approaches the field of historic preservation from a position of critical inquiry. A comparatively recent field of professional study, preservation often escapes direct academic challenges of its motives, goals, forms of practice and results. Future Anterior invites contributions that ask these difficult questions from philosophical, theoretical, and practical perspectives.
Articles submitted for peer review should be no more than 4000 words, with five to seven illustrations. Text must be formatted in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition. All articles must be submitted in English, and spelling should follow American convention. All submissions must be submitted electronically. Text should be saved as Microsoft Word or RTF format, while accompanying images should be sent as TIFF files with a resolution of at least 300 dpi at 8” by 9” print size. Figures should be numbered and called out clearly between paragraphs in the text. Image captions and credits must be included with submissions. It is the responsibility of the author to secure permissions for image use and pay any reproduction fees. A brief author biography (around 100 words) must accompany the text.
For further manuscript guidelines, please visit:
Acceptance or rejection of submissions is at the discretion of the editors.
Please do not send original materials, as submissions will not be returned.
Please email all submissions to: