Brian Havener

projects / transparency and...

At the height of Modernism, transparency was propagated as the cultural expression of a new and open society in harmony with nature. Glass became one of the primary tools to join both sides of a physical, yet invisible surface. The technology allowed architects to visually connect hermetic environments to the outside world, with virtually no interruption. This apparently erasure of boundaries, however, often neglected the surface’s capacity to interface with the perceiving viewer. Ultimately, the dematerialization of the transparent surface has the potential to manipulate, distort and amplify the ways in which we experience our surroundings.

This submission suggests that glass is not so simple and investigates the ability of both literal and phenomenal transparency to construct the perception of space. Through transparency, reflection, and projection, the work attempts to expand surface into a series of spatial atmospheres, establishing an architecture that is simultaneously real and unreal—physically present while perceptually outside of all places—one that is constantly in shift, imbuing both a maximum of the immediate and a maximum of abstraction. These polarities are to be fueled by the movement of both the viewer(s) and the surrounding environmental conditions. The phenomenon of parallax can only be defined by idiosyncratic effects that are determined by time and place.

As seen in many of Mies’ collages, glass disappears in order for nature to be foregrounded. Rather, when the glass surface is exploited, nature itself becomes embedded in the material construct of transparency and reflection, projecting unforeseen associations with oneself, others, an immediate context, or the greater environment. The experience generates an inexhaustible, ever-renewing composite of perceptions, memories and thoughts.

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