Mechtild Widrich
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This chapter considers the conditions of visibility and intelligibility of most of the art and architecture considered in this book, that is, the transmission of images of a performance or space through a transparent medium, whether that be a camera lens, computer screen, or glass-walled modernist architecture. Ranging from Duchamp’s Large Glass to post-war German pretentions to political transparency and the postmodern celebration of obscurity and illusion, the chapter reaffirms a modernist commitment to clarity as a medium not of mythic purity but of self-reflection and criticism. The physical as well as metaphorical possibilities of transmitting and reflecting light, using glass and photographic techniques, lend themselves to a theoretical account of seeing through that may be profitably set alongside Richard Wollheim’s more familiar formalist phenomenon of seeing-in. Works of mediated conceptual art by Dan Graham, Hannah Wilke, Adrian Piper and Ana Mendieta are accordingly placed in a trajectory stretching from Emile Zola’s 19th-century conception of the “realist screen” to recent experiments in fractured glass architecture by Monica Bonvicini and to photographic neo-realist narrative films by Catherine Opie.

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