Friday, January 9, 2015

CRIME!

He, he, Adolf Loos, you've made a fool of yourself! I LOVE taggers!!!

Original image here.
In his famous essay of 1908, “Ornament and Crime,” the Austrian writer/architect Adolf Loos presented an argument for the minimalist industrial aesthetic that has shaped modernism and neo-modernism ever since. Surprisingly, he built this argument upon a foundation that is accepted today by almost no one; the cultural superiority of “modern man”, by which he meant Northern European males. Loos proclaimed that, in this new era of streamlined modern production, we had apparently become unable to produce “authentic ornamental detail.” But are we alone, he asked, unable to have our own style do what “any Negro”, or any other race and period before us, could do? Of course not, he argued. We are more advanced, more “modern.” Our style must be the very aesthetic paucity that comes with the streamlined goods of industrial production — a hallmark of advancement and superiority. In effect, our “ornament” would be the simple minimalist buildings and other artifacts themselves, celebrating the spirit of a great new age. Indeed, the continued use of ornament was, for Loos, a “crime.” The “Papuan,” he argued, had not evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man. As part of his primitive practices, the Papuan tattooed himself. Likewise, Loos went on, “the modern man who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate.” Therefore, he reasoned, those who still used ornament were on the same low level as criminals, and Papuans. - Salingaros & Mehaffy

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