Decriminalising Ornament* : The Pleasures of Pattern
The 9th International Illustration Research Symposium
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
November 17-18th, 2018
Ornament : a thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose . Verb: to make (something) look more attractive by adding decorative items.
— The Oxford Living Dictionary (online)
“Ornament is no longer a natural product of its culture, and
therefore represents backwardness or even a degenerative tendency.”
— Adolf Loos, Ornament and Crime, 1908
In 1908 Alfred Loos declared ornament to be a 'backward' and 'degenerate' activity, counter to the utopian, ‘rationalist’ aims of the modernist movement, and called for it to be criminalised. This puritanical stance towards the decorative can be seen as a historical echo of the protestant Reformation in Europe which conflated decorative imagery in churches with corruption and decadent idolatry; the whitewashing of devotional spaces enacted as a form of moral cleansing. In contrast to this fraught relationship with ornament, the Islamic tradition of non-representational art puts great store in the rhythm and mathematics of pattern to express transcendental truths.
This year's Illustration Research Symposium seeks to draw together a range of perspectives on ornament and ornamentation, and its close relatives pattern and the decorative, to explore the resilience, continued value, significance, application, and creation of these cultural forms; celebrating their centrality within human life and cultural production, both past and present, and (speculatively), the future .
We invite papers that explore the cultural importance of pattern, ornament and decoration. We begin from the … read more