[Image: An Australian truth window, photographed by Peter Halasz, courtesy of Wikipedia].
“Truth windows” are false windows cut into the interior walls of buildings, used to reveal what lies within that wall and, thus—like something out of an architecturally themed remake of The Matrix—what the building you’re standing in is really made from.
According to that well-known fast-research assistant Wikipedia, “truth windows” are “often used to show the walls are actually made from straw bales. A small section of a wall is left unplastered on the interior, and a frame is used to create a window which shows only straw, which makes up the inside of the wall.”
The ideological implications of this—let alone philosophical ones—are quite extraordinary, as if we could simply scrape aside some paint and plaster and see, for once, the truth, the Real, the scaffolding, the code that makes and sustains the everyday worldly environment; though, I suppose, any attempt to over-literalize such a thing—even the portentous, Frodo Baggensian name of a “truth window”—would come out as, well… exactly like an architecturally themed remake of The Matrix (perhaps resembling the unwatchable film Dark City).
Though that’s not to say that someone shouldn’t try.
But “truth windows” aren’t limited to architecture. Briefly, I remember as a kid being taken out to visit a farm somewhere in the University of Wisconsin system to see a so-called “cannulated cow,” or a cow with a window in its side. As The Lantern describes this sectional phenomenon, “Basically, the animals have surgery performed upon them that creates a passageway in the side of the animal so researchers can perform readings on what takes place in the cow’s rumen.”
[Image: A cow window, photographed by “Dori,” courtesy of Wikipedia].
Alternatively, I’ve long been intrigued with the idea of installing upside-down periscopes on the sidewalks of vertically dense cities such as New York City, London, Istanbul, or Jerusalem—even Washington D.C., where road construction recently revealed the laminated stratigraphy of older roads beneath Georgetown—allowing everyone to peer down into subterranean infrastructure, exploring subways, cellars, plague pits, crypts, sewers, buried rivers and streams, scanning back and forth through the foundations of missing or war-destroyed buildings, even zeroing in on lost ships.
Call it cannulated urbanism, perhaps, or archaeological “truth windows” installed like skylights in the ground.
(Thanks to Lauren Baier for the tip!)