Independent Research Study

This research seminar examines \”transparency\” as a critical concept in the theoretical conceptualization of modern architecture in the 20th century. The purpose of the seminar is twofold: to recover the theoretical, ideological, and formal complexity of transparency in the discourses of modernism, and to explore the significance of the concept of transparency for architecture today. The research carried out in the seminar will form the basis of an exhibition on Transparency in 2005. The subject matter covered in the course will span the 20th century. The course itself is founded on two working propositions: First that the discourse on transparency constitutes a kind of subtext of the discourses of modernism – a text that continuously negotiates between the technological, aesthetic, social, and psychological dimensions of architecture. Second, that modes of representational discourse outside architecture – film, photography, electronic and digital media – have figured in important ways in the architectural conception of transparency.The seminar will focus on four historical moments: 1890/1900, 1920/1930, 1960/1970, 1990/2000. Each student will select a topic within one of these timeframes and will carry out independent research in collections at Harvard, including the Walter Gropius Archive and related holdings of the Busch-Reisinger and Fogg Art Museums, the Harvard Film Archive, and the Special Collections of the Loeb and Houghton Libraries, as well as collections at MIT and elsewhere in Boston. The objectives of the research are to elucidate and refine the themes, as well as to select objects to be included in the exhibition. Structure: In the first weeks of the semester the class will meet to discuss readings and thematics of the research. This will be followed by a series of individual or smaller group meetings in which research progress will be discussed. The final third of the semester will focus on shaping the exhibition; participants will present the results of their research, and together will work on issues of organization and installation. The seminar is preliminarily and tentatively scheduled to meet Thursdays, 12:00 – 2:00. Enrollment is limited to twelve. Students interested in participating should come to the first meeting and submit a brief statement of interest to the instructor.