Ornament and Crime Report

This is my indivual report of Ornament and Crime Essay.

The essay written by Adolf  Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos. He was an Austrian and Czechoslovak architect. Also  he was a pioneer of modern architecture and contributed theory which is critism of Modernism in architecture and design. In his early career, at age 23, traveled  to United States and this journey was changed all his life. After associating himself with the Vienna Secession and he rejected the style and advocated a new, obivious and unadorned (which means without unnecessary or special decorations). As a result he wrote his most famous essay which is Ornament and Crime in 1908 and published in 1913.

To beginning, I want to give dictionary definition couple of words:

Ornament: a small object that you keep in your house because it is beatiful rather than useful.

Papuan People: who are the people of New Guinea and neighbouring islands.

Ulititarian: to be useful and practical rather than attractive

Firstly, the author gives some historical examples from the beginning of humanity and main purpose is explaining the ornament with using three different example. In the first one, The Papuan kills his enemies and eat them but in his age, he is not a criminal. However, if the modern man kills someone, he is a criminal or a degenerate. Another example is about tattoos. The papuan tattoos his skins, his boat, his paddles, in short everything he can lay hands on but in the end he is not a criminal. However, the modern people who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate. (according to 80 percent of inmates show tattoos) The last and most generic example is about art. The Papuan begins art with plastic art which is painting and smears the walls with erotic symbols but he is not a criminal in his age. On the other hand, if the man of our day (talking about 20th century) smears the walls with erotic symbols, he is a criminal or a degenerate. All this example gives a certain end point which is ornament produced by criminals.

Secondly, the author gives some points on cultural evolution about how is affect by ornament issue. Adolf Loss had made the following discovery: ”The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from ulititarian objects.” In the essay, gives some couples examples about that discovery and give some obsevartion about evolution of culture such as every age has it own style which means people meant ornament. The greatness lies of our age, that is incapable of producing a new ornament. We have outgrown ornament; we have fought our way through the freedoom from ornament. Loos gives specific an observation about evolution of culture which is ”The speed of cultural evolution reduced by the straggers.” For example, I perhaps am living in 1908, but my neighbour is living in 1900 and the man across the way in 1880. Those stragglers people from 19th century horrified by a picture with purple shadows because they cannot see purple. To generalize, same issue is in everywhere. Another example is if cigarette case has an ornament, they are prefering generally or clothes are in same problem category, all of those ornament objects belong to past century.

Lastly, the author gives some examples economical effects of ornament. Adolf Loos: ”The stragglers slow down the cultural evolution of the nations of mankind; not only is ornament produced by criminals but also a crime is committed through the fact that ornament inflicts serious injury on people’s health, on the national budget and hence on cultural evolution.” And Loss gives some couple of examples about effects on economically in ornament issue. For example, if two people live side by side with the same needs, the same demands on life and the same income but belonging to different cultures. Economical conditions will process that way, the modern man who belongs to 20th century, will get richer and richer. On the other hand, the 18th century man poorer and poorer. Because the ornamenter has to work 20 hours to achieve the income earned by a modern worker in eight. According to Loos the difference from the Bristish nation is same condition with this. The American workers work for eight hours, but half of the work belongs to ornament issue. If there were no ornament at all, man would only have to work four hours instead of eight. That’s why ornament is wasted labour power and hence wasted health from beginning of it.

Since ornament is no longer linked with our culture and it is no longer expression of our culture. The ornamenter will reject his own products after a while. For example, where are Otto Eckmann’s work today? Also modern ornamentalist is a straggler and in the end they have no roots with past and not will be link for the future. As a result; ” A mankind is healthier than, ever; only a few people are sick.”

For understand better I want to give my favourite and best example about ornament issue in Ornament and Crime Essay. My shoes are covered all over with ornaments, work by the shoemaker. I go to the shoemaker and say: ”You ask thirty kronen for a pair of shoes. I will pay you forty kronen.” In that situation, the shoemaker  is happy. However, the hapiness rarely enters his house. Because I am understanding him, I know the value of his shoe, I know how many hours work on it and I know he is a professional on this job and his shoes are infinitely better in terms of material. As I mean, there is no doubt for the price of shoe, I know the value of his work but many people do not give money he asked for the work. And I say to him: ” But there is one condition. The shoes must be completely smooth.” With this, without ornament, his working hours reduce a half of it.

Finally, Ornament and Crime Essay is completely wonderful and, Adolf Loos’ essay would be fundemental to Bauhaus design studio and would define the ideology of Modernism in Architecture. In my opinion, the essay is so dense, I read twice some parts but argumentative language is the main and key factor for the this essay. The essay gives some examples of cultural evolution and economical situations which created by ornament. Honestly, I could not understand completely some examples which are more about historical events and relationships between crime. On the other hand, economical and cultural examples are just perceft for his age and observation are so precious, the reason for that the essay be a fundemental for Bauhaus. To sum up, I completely agree with Adolf Loos ideas and as a beginner in education of architecture the essay gives to perceft educational informations about design.

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