Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Review - Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal: Colin Rowe

In the essay, ‘Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal’, Colin Rowe introduces into the Architectural vocabulary the term transparent.

He also draws a distinction between two senses of transparency, the literal and the phenomenal. While this distinction is very noticeably Hegelian/Kantian, the essay does not enter into explicit discussion about the nature of knowledge.

Transparency is fundamentally a method or device whose characteristic is to allow interpenetration. Colin Rowe presents certain instances of transparency such as the League of Nations project by Le Corbusier.

The problem with transparency is its relationship to knowledge.

Along with juxtaposition and comparative analysis, what is to be known is something other. Knowing is not inherent with in the method. The placement of what can be known into something other is symptomatic of Kantian thought; noumen/phenomen.

Indeed, within the essay Colin Rowe notes that: ‘They [superimpositions of form] transpose insignificant singularities into meaningful complexities.’ Only through some thing else can some thing be meaningful. The singularities are insignificant.

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