The world loves ornaments. We delight in them. We preserve them. We marvel at the skills it takes to create them.
We immerse ourselves in the stories they tell and their hidden messages. So why are so few bothering to use such a fundamental element of architecture and design? Why are they generally ignored in contemporary architectural discourse?
In 1917 Adolf Loos wrote the landmark text of Modern Architecture, “Ornament and Crime.” His criminalization of architectural ornament has trapped Modernism in the bondage of abstract minimalism. “Ornament Is” challenges the validity of that proclamation and the limitations it has plagued on architecture ever since.
This is not just a return to “traditional” practice, as defined by Western Classicism. The labor intensive nature of ornament now has an outlet to realization via the digital world and into the physical world. Minimalism stripped architecture of content. What meaning might designers inject back into architecture, now that the tools are available to realize and fabricate it? The economic and production barriers are being lowered, now we have only to conquer the intellectual barriers. The cure for a one hundred year old criminalization of ornament is a celebration of it’s potentials.
We propose an invitational exhibit, both real and virtual, of original writings, texts, illustrations, sketches,
watercolors, paintings, photos, maquettes, mock-ups, renderings, carving, reliefs and sculpture: Exploring a wide range of scales, considering architectural form and space making while cataloging applications to many parts of the built environment
The curators imagine two categories of submittals:
"Recorders" These are the observers of the bounty of architectural and design ornaments still existent all over the world. “Recorders” create as drawings, paintings, watercolors and photographs, as only the visual arts can, ornament and its contribution to design and architectural form & space.
For this category, The curators will consider paintings, drawings, watercolors and photography. All work must meet the entry requirements listed on the entry form.
"Creators" We are seeking architects and designers interested in presenting a window to their point of view how of they might "unmute" architecture. Our hope is to learn for what purposes and reasons ornament can be "decriminalized"! Special consideration will be shown work that is fabricated in 2 and/or 3 dimensions using laser cutting, laser etching, multi axis C&C machines; 3d printers and other available technologies.
Hand drawing, painting, or carved material will be very welcome. Also of special interest is how parametrics and AI can be implemented in the process of formulating ornaments design. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is what the message is, its importance to our culture, and its role in our society.
For this category, the curators are seeking mock ups, sculptures, maquettes or reliefs, which will fit on a pedestal x by y x z which will represent in 2 and 3 dimensions the theory behind the form. One rendering showing the object in context 8” x 10” and an explanatory text no longer than 120 words should be included in the submittal. All work must meet the entry requirements listed on the entry form.
Curated by Joshua Mings and Stephen Wierzbowski, and Marci Rubin building curator for the Bridgeport art Center.
Participating will be invited architects designers artists, theoritists and historians advised by a distinguished board and then teamed, when possible, with various fabricators. They will be selected for their diverse points of view. Each are to address what ornament was, is, can and might be.
It will take place at the 4th floor gallery of the Bridgeport Art Center and on the web at ornamentis.org
The domain name ornamentis.org was locked on June 3rd, 2022 by the curators. The grand opening is booked for September 15th 2023.
The exhibit ends November 3rd, 2023. The project we are initiating we hope will be an ongoing effort with continued documentation through social media, the web site, publications and, pending interest, other exhibit venues.