Transparency

The concept of transparency is critical not only to understanding 20th century modernism, but also to engaging current architectural concerns with mediation, density, surface, light, movement, and information. The purpose of the course 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. This exploration is founded on two working propositions: First that the discourse of 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\”. These include early 20th century theories of \'space creation\' (from Hildebrandt, Schmarzow and Sitte, to van Doesburg, Moholy-Nagy and others); theories of \'image formation\' (Richter, Kepes, Gestalt psychology, etc.); discourses regarding \'relational space\' or \'space-time\' (Giedion, Le Corbusier, Mies); media studies, op-art, pattern recognition, camouflage, in the 1960s; Rowe and Slutzky\'s concept of \”phenomenal transparency\” and its impact on architecture in the 1970s (Eisenman, NY 5). The course will also engage current conceptions of transparency in terms of \”light construction\” and \”deep surface\” as well as contemporary design practices and experimental work that explore contradictions between the worlds of information and experience: between objective and subjective modes of cognition, perception and knowledge, material and virtual presence, between the architectural object and the equally dynamic and mutable physical and social environments in which it operates.Requirements/assignments: Course requirements include weekly readings and informed participation in class discussions. A careful preparation of the assigned reading for each week is expected of everyone. Throughout the semester students will be responsible for initiating discussion of selected weekly readings or topics relating to the readings. The principal assignment is a presentation and 10 page research paper on a topic chosen by students in consultation with the instructor.Prerequisites: Buildings, Texts, and Contexts or equivalent.