I got the idea for this post in one of my classes. Architecture of the 20th Century. We discussed among others Farnsworth House, a creation of famous architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, situated southwest of Chicago. This house, built in 1950, was meant for Dr Edith Farnsworth, a most intelligent young woman who wanted the house as a weekend retreat. I won’t go into the details of the property’s history; I just want to show it to you. It is completely transparent. Mies himself said about it:
“The essentials for living are floor and roof. Everything else is proportion and nature. Whether the house pleases or not is inconsequential.”
Well, the house indeed didn’t please Dr Farnsworth… She said about it:
“Less is not more, it’s just less.”
Let us think about that. A house made of glass. It is like living in the display of one giant shop window. I don’t wish to criticize Modernist Architecture of the 20th Century; others have done that before and better than I ever could. No. I want us to think about how we are building glass houses for ourselves every day. It has become a trend, to share as much as you can of yourself. Even purses become see-through ones. You make yourself the persona you want others to see. Do we post pictures of crying, dirty children that drive us crazy on our Facebook Wall? Or pictures of ourselves while we’re lying teary-eyed and depressed on the couch after a break up? I didn’t think so. And nothing is wrong with that… we’re all guilty. Why would we share our crap if we can also share the good stuff only?
The problem is, the more we make our life a virtual shop window, the more we lose the ability to be ourselves among our friends and family, both online and in real life. Edith Farnsworth said about her house that it kept her tight. We can easily imagine what she meant with that. At every moment of her being there she was on display. The house took away a bit of her liberty; it restricted her and forced her to keep up her outside façade even while inside. Our “corrected” personae are that outside façade, and the more we show of our private life to others, the more glass walls we give to our house, the less places we have where we can be truly ourselves.
Do we crack our glass walls when we are honest towards the world? Can the world take that much honesty? Can we?