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[ecrea] call for papers: Decriminalising Ornament: The Pleasures of Pattern*

Thu Apr 19 09:47:19 GMT 2018

*Decriminalising Ornament: The Pleasures of Pattern**

The 9^th  International Illustration Research Symposium
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
November 17-18^th , 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 Symposiumseeks 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 observation that what is so often missing is the significance  – the meaning – of ornament, which has become lost or eroded, but was once all-pervasive.

The multiple practice-based and theoretical lenses we will invite to explore the topic, are firmly situated within an expanded definition of illustration, as the place where ornament historically resides as a form of visual production. However, we also invite contributions which embrace the widest range of cultural, creative and technological perspectives on ornament, including applications of ‘the ornamental' found within design, typography, architecture, and ‘other’ contexts.

To decriminalise ornament, is to place it back at the centre of human life, and not at the margins, where it has too long been banished as an unwanted and non-functional excess; instead celebrating the pleasures of pattern, and our ongoing desire for the decorative.

/Topics include, but are not limited to, explorations of//:/

– Ornament and modernity

– Ornament as sensual excess

– Ornament as visual language

– Ornament and class

– Ornament as play

– Ornament and power

– Ornament as process

– Ornament as spiritual meditation

– Ornament and the body

– Ornament and Meaning

– Popular ornament

– Nature as ornament

– Digital ornament

/We also welcome practice-led presentations which engage with: /

– Creative practices which use ornament/pattern/decoration
as central elements.

– Practices which embrace contemporary and/or future uses
and/or reclamations of ornament/pattern/decoration.

*Deadline for all Submissions: Monday July 9th, 2018.**
*Please submit 300 word proposals, for a 20 minute presentation to:**

Dr. Sheena Calvert at (s.calvert /at/ <mailto:(s.calvert /at/>
Desdemona McCannon at (d.mccannon /at/ <mailto:(d.mccannon /at/>
Dr. Nanette Hoogslag at (nanette.hoogslag /at/ <mailto:(nanette.hoogslag /at/>.

Please include your institutional affiliation, along with the theme (from the list above, or ‘other’), which your proposal is addressing.

Proposals for workshops/round-tables of 3 or more participants, and poster presentations are also welcome.

An exhibition of work on the topic of ornament/pattern/decoration will be curated and installed during the symposium. If you would like your work to be considered for inclusion, please send images of your work via a word document, with a maximum of 3 images and accompanied by a brief explanation of the project (300 words max). Please include name, title, and media. If selected, further submission details will be provided at a later date.

The full call for papers is also available at:

* The phrase ‘Decriminalising Ornament. Was coined by Alice Twemlow in her article ‘The Decriminalisation of Ornament’, which was first published in /Eye/ no. 58 vol. 15, Winter 2005. It was reprinted in ‘Looking Closer 5’, eds. Beirut, Drenttel and Heller (Allworth Press, 2006).

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