“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, the Name of the Wind
Futurist’s manifesto and Adolf loos hatred of ornamentation
the city raises (1910) Umberto Boccioni
The early 20th century was marked by powerful texts highlighting a rebellion against the continuation of the past traditions and demand for a radical change. Two of the most important texts are ‘ornamentation and crime’ by architect Adolf loos and futurist manifesto written by Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti along with eight other people.
These radical ideas, put forth by a set of young generation, stemming simultaneously from different parts of the world shows the conception of modernist ideologies of creating new world; a world that is not decorated by the classical heritage, but of one that embraces the beauty of technology, aesthetics of speed…
Ornament and crime released in 1910 emphasises on the need of modern society to strip ornamentation in its life and break from the past tradition. Adolf loos compares the evolution of human being with that of a Papuan; a Papuan’s need to tattoo itself is equivalent to a degenerate man ornamenting himself. He explains in detail how evolution of man is determined by the less and less usage of ornamentation. “Cultural evolution is equivalent to the removal of Ornament from articles in daily use”. He argues not only that we need to let go of our attachment to the ornamentation of the past, but it is also hampering the economical production of the state. By concentrating on ornamenting a product, a craftsmen is losing on valuable time and money when all modern society needs is fast and minimalist product. “Ornament is wasted labour and hence wasted health”. He declares that ornament is not the style of our epoch or culture, so pursuing it beyond its time is a crime
The futurists express their love for modernity in a different way. Instead of concentrating on the past, they express their love, vigour and passion for the modern technology; they celebrate it with the speed of cars and vehicles. While Adolf loos expressed himself in an argument, Marinetti being a poet enjoys himself in delivering his emotions in a poem. The manifesto states that the past has been beaten and they now live in a world of trams and the smell of engine oils; so one should wake up from the hypocrisy of ignoring it, while enjoying its luxuries, learn to enjoy the beauty of it.We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.The futurists not only instilled these thoughts in people but also in fields of art where they called for new expression of beauty, away from the impressionist’s perfect picture.
Even though the world delved into the Second World War immediately after these ideas were published, the ideas did not die in the war or with the death of the futurists. Instead the modernist philosophies rose again to reconstruct the destructed world and shape the ideas of life after the war. Thus we live in a world without ornamentation but not necessarily in a way they imagined. Having lived in their imagined worlds and experiencing the ripples of events of their ideas, one is left to wonder the importance of past and the need to move forward from it. Were they too fast in moving away from that past, that modernity essentially failed in communicating it to the people or were the people weren’t just ready to detach from the past in the name of culture. What do we envision now knowing the failures of the previous vision?