From Transparency to Blur
The 19thC modernist ascendancy of the myth and medium of transparency in glass anticipates the emergence of transparent and translucent design media - on paper and on screens, as the emergent translucent surface of sense, as both Deleuze and Virilio have noted. After tracing the effects of these contemporary techniques, and the mechanisms of these tracings, the essay necessarily turns towards an interrogation of the Derridean notion of the trace (as the undecidable prior marking that cleaves discourses) leading to a new promise of interiority following W.J.T. Mitchell's construct of diagrammatology – where the promiscuity of text and image foreshadow a promiscuity of space and experience within the re-conceptualization of the contemporary translucent urban environment, which will be shown to be a circulation of the ephemeral and translucent surface of sense that bounds a libidinal spatial economy of desire, dependent but strangely dissonant from the austere diagrammatic origins of contemporary architecture. The recent attention of architectural theory to the elevated status of the diagram - as both heuristic device and sensual fantasy, and also conversely as both abstract-machine and promissory note, will be examined in light of recent urban architecture by Japanese and Dutch "diagram architects" Koolhaas and Ito, and their clever and prolific minions. This work seeks to overcome the tired early modernist ontological/phenomenological dialectic of static thing-in-space in favor of an emergent paradigm of blurred sense of fugitive event-spaces, where the soluble and indeterminate “architectural thing” ceases to be an object-image before space, differentially.
Keywords: Transparency, Blurring, Architecture, Optics
Dr. Thomas Mical
School of Architecture, Carleton University