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CFP: The Production of Ornament (Leeds, March 21-22)
Leeds, March 21 - 22, 2014
Deadline: Dec 13, 2013
The descriptive terms ‘decorative’ and ‘ornamental’ are in many ways
synonymous with superfluity and excess; they refer to things or
modalities that are ‘supplementary’ or ‘marginal’ by their very
nature. In the West, such qualitative associations in made objects
intersect with long-standing and inter-related philosophical
oppositions between ‘form’ and ‘matter’, ‘body’ and ‘surface’, the
‘proper’ and the ‘cosmetic’. Accordingly, this has weighed both on
determinations of value in artistic media, and on the inflexions of
related histories – particularly histories of ‘non-Western’ art,
design and culture, where a wide range of decorative traditions are
deemed unworthy of critical attention.
Yet such frameworks are no more historically stable than they are
culturally universal. To take one very clear and ‘central’
counter-example, decoration in some strands of Renaissance
architectural theory (Filarete, Alberti) emerged as a rigorous
codification of meaning, as an essentially functional (political)
language. In many ways the history of ornament may itself be seen as a
process of marginalisation of such ways of thinking, and the
separation of ornament from any form of social practice.
This two-day conference seeks to explore the various ways in which
ornament might be regarded as itself productive of its objects and
sites. How might the technologies, techniques, and materials of
ornament be related to the conception and transformation of modes of
object-making? How might ornament be understood to inform its objects,
disrupting the spatial categories of ‘surface’ and ‘structure’, and
the temporal models in which ornament ‘follows’ making? What are the
relations between ornament and representation, and what is at stake in
the conventional oppositions between these categories? What are the
roles of ornament in larger dynamics of copying, hybridisation and
appropriation between things? In what ways have practices and thinking
on ornament staged cultural encounters, and engendered larger
epistemological and social models?
The conference will explore the production of ornament across a broad
range of historical and geographical contexts. We invite proposals
from researchers and postgraduates working in any discipline, as well
as practitioners, conservators and curators. Proposals of no more than
300 words, along with a CV, should be sent to Dr Richard Checketts and
Dr Lara Eggleton at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday the
13th of December 2013.