chapter  18
Weathering and patina
Pages 6

Patina and weathering are analogues for memory, traces of time’s passage, and are important facets of a melancholy aesthetics. One step removed from the dilapidation of ruins and fragments, weathering and patination register on surfaces as a cumulative process, like Ruskin’s ‘golden stains of time’. Weathering is an index of age, evocative of a sentimental, affective connection, and a manifestation of aura. As Ma˘da˘lina Diaconu explains, ‘because the patina materialises, i.e., makes visible, a repeated touch over a long interval of time, it encodes an own story of the object and therefore implies temporality and narrativity’ (Diaconu, 2003, p.8). Patina resonates with melancholy’s inherently paradoxical quality. At once individual and universal, the markings show the patterns of a person’s hands, their passing, but we do not know exactly who: ‘the patina – designating the traces on the surface of a repeatedly touched object – is both anonymous yet utterly personal insofar as it involves ngerprints, which are unique’ (Diaconu, 2003, p.3). The phenomenologicality of patina charges it with tactility, the intimacy of touch, even its own anthropomorphic sensibility, in Georg Simmel’s words, like a ‘growth of skin’ (in Mostafavi and Leatherbarrow, 1993, p.69).