Glass Codes. With its extreme lightness, the iron and glass structures of the 19th century anticipated the importance that glass would take on in the 20th. Not only because of its technical possibilities, but also because of the symbolic connotations implicit in its transparency, this material was identified with the modern preference for geometrically pure prisms and explicit construction. In the 21st century, new technologies made possible the appearance of vitreous skins, more and more refined and sophisticated: the search for that dematerialized architecture that the historical avant-garde imagined continues.
|Views and Reviews
||Art / Culture
|Historiography and Chronicle. A critical study of modern architecture’s histories and a visual chronicle of its buildings share protagonism on the shelves with monographs devoted to 20th century and contemporary figures.
|To close, the journalist Marc Llorens, resident in Buenos Aires and author of several guides of the city, recounts the effects on the Argentinian capital and its buildings of the political and economic crisis sparked off on 20 December.||Products
Glass, Ceramic, Furniture
Buenos Aires after 20-D
Modern transparency had found in glass the best metaphor of a society open to scrutiny, fascinated by industrial precision, and that pursued to build with constructive truth, functional logic and elementary forms. This interpretation, canonical since Pevsner and Giedion, which found the core of the century in mechanization, Gropius and Berlin, was questioned by Anglo-Saxon formalist criticism, which preferred to articulate the modern revolution through artistic mutations, Le Corbusier and Paris, and this is the story underlying Colin Rowe’s emphasis on the apparent transparency of cubist painting as compared with the literal transparency of glass architectures. However, modern glass would not be shattered by this historiographic revision, but rather by the dramatic political convulsions that undermined the optimistic trust in the enlightened project, bearing witness to the totalitarian dimension of technical reason, and showing the obscurely oppressive character of the transparent city of lights.
As Goethe on his deathbed, modern architecture demanded “light, more light”, and that luminous will ended up perverting itself in crystalline prisms that science fiction imagined inhabited by androids, while the jagged utopias of Taut in the Alps were replaced by the frozen geode of Superman in the Arctic, and the essential geometries of Malevich gave birth to Kubrick’s hermetic monolith, an inhuman crystal that summarizes the terminal crisis of modern reason. The cold fragility of glass makes it so unfriendly to touch as oblivious to shelter or marks, and it is not surprising that Barragán warned us about the mistake of having replaced “the protection of walls for the exposure of glass”, nor that Derrida staged his rupture with deconstructivist architects in the context of their defense of glass, whose unalterable nature “does not allow human existence to leave traces of its passage”. While we hear the crash of broken glass, the vitreous dream becomes a glazed awakening.