Eleven words to approach glass
This paper focuses on one of the substances that has contributed, particularly in the last two centuries, in an ambiguous, complex and elusive way, to the construction of that what Heidegger calls “Frontiers”: Glass. It explores how those glass frontiers, thanks to their optical properties (the interaction of light and gaze with glass as a mediator between the two), contribute to trigger a series of situations, phenomena and feelings that exceed the study of the material from a purely scientific point of view. We have chosen to reflect over eleven words (phantasmagoria, estrangement, hierarchy, intimacy, seduction, absorption, silence, time, dematerialization, materialization, invisibility). This discussion is accompanied by a series of pictures and film frames that express how architecture makes use of some of the most ungraspable qualities of this paradoxical material, namely, transparency and reflectance. These properties are sometimes used in a premeditated manner and sometimes unexpectedly. Glass is a medium that expresses or reflects certain human conditions, thus exceeding the mere physical nature of the material.