Surveillance, Transparency and the Hidden in Contemporary Culture
Edited By Henriette Steiner and Kristin Veel
4 Transparency: Effable and Ineffable
Then a boundless depth opens up, effaces the walls, drives away contingent presences, accomplishes the miracle of ineffable space.
—LE CORBUSIER, introduction to New World of Space (1948)
Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it’s me?
—SAMUEL BECKETT, Texts for Nothing IV (1951/1966), opening lines
Space is not a bad starting point for a discussion of what is visible and invisible in contemporary culture, because like our subjectivity, which we bring to every encounter – even to encounters with our self (I am thinking here of Beckett) – it is everywhere and nowhere all around us. Like our subjectivity, we see through space to reach things, and if it were not for its seeming invisibility, intangibility and nothingness, nothing would have an appearance. If space or subjectivity were to thicken, become material, or be mistaken for material, nothing would have an appearance. We do not image it,1 and yet it seems to be the precondition for imaging everything else. The rationality and materiality of architecture (probably its two bugbears) make the elusive status of space and its spurious logic all the more problematic. ← 61 | 62 → And let us be clear: by ‘space’, we do not mean space metaphorically speaking, or ‘personal space’, which isn’t space at all, but body heat. We mean space literally, the space that architecture...
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