Image: Slide at Pacific Panel, 2017 Interstices Under Construction symposium by Tēvita Ka’ili
Surface and ornament are periodically reviewed, discarded and pursued. More recently, there has been an interest in the writing of Aby Warburg, Alois Riegl, Gottfried Semper, Adolf Loos, Hermann Muthesius, and Le Corbusier. They have been made prominent by issues of animation (see, for example, Papapetros 2012, Payne 2013, van Eck 2014) and digitation (see for example Spuybroek 2008 and Schumacher 2009).
Incrustations, protuberances, textured expressions, smoothed surfaces, surfaces enlivened as screens – are they ornament or cladding? The forthcoming issue of Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts, “Surface/Pattern”, pursues the tension between ornament, adornment, object enlivenment, cladding, surface and pattern and explores the strange animations inherent in surface-pattern continua.
Thought in one direction, smooth surface tends towards speed and a friction-less gloss; in another, pattern stirs surfaces, inciting decelerating, contemplation, and even deviation. Etymologically, ‘surface’ accords with the revealing of an upper or outward layer, but it also points to things that receive a surface through polishing or finishing. Surface, as a verb, intimates an active surface/depth relationship.
Pattern suggests the imposition of a plan or design that ultimately models or leads back to exemplars and the impact of patrons. Conjunctures of surface-patterns thus encompass rich and complex narrative effects. Performative and plastic arts in the Pacific and elsewhere use repetition not only as aesthetic device but also “to symbolise and effect relations of mana” (Tomlinson & Tengan 2015: 17), both channelling affective force and representing memory and knowledge to those who understand (Clark 2006: 12; Nepia 2013: 133, 197).
This call for papers invites considerations, at a range of scales, of surface-pattern complexes like territory and landscapes, built assemblages and ‘cladding’, interior surfaces, décor and furniture, sculpture or objects of the decorative arts.
The issue is motivated by a renewed fascination with the architectural surface and the expressive effects it mobilises – effects that both eschew and uneasily dabble in the decorative. Material mediation has become a means for experimentation, a way of teasing out smooth geometries, tessellated patterns, iconic figures and textures. All of these may perform technical functions, as well, like joining or harmoniously accommodating incremental and differential movement.
If, following Paul Virilio, the built, like the social, is inseparable from a politics of speed (in which surfaces, ways, and conduits at every scale are ‘policed’ in order to arrest impediments to an accelerating commerce of motion and passage), we might wonder what role patterning plays today. As Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have argued, periodic repetition is key to encoding a milieu, founding territoriality and place-specificity. However, it is also a rhythmic vehicle running on difference, a metrical, staggered and reversible time of variable intensities, in which beginning and end are confused (Bogue 2003: 28).
Pattern and rhythm run free of and extend beyond planar fixity, implicating faces and surfaces that may change, reverse or combine, they alter perception and architectural space. Surfaces, beyond their seconding within building hierarchies, open onto movement and shifting states (Taylor 2009: 47). Architecture, then, can be rethought in relation to an outside that is not kept out or apart, in terms of surfaces, flatness, dynamism and movement rather than stasis (Grosz 1995: 135). Patterned and patterning, surfaces provide a saturated environment rich in repetition, difference and an atmosphere by which architecture is more than a machinic structure. As the distinctions between structures and ornaments, function, form, façade and decor are reconceptualised, surfaces are no longer decorative elements but entities in themselves. Surface “turns into architecture [as the] surface becomes weighted, deep, differentiated, tartan, alternating, camouflaged, tonal, gradated, textured, branded, serial” (Bruno 2014: 93).
It is with this sense of the spatial effects potentiated by surface-pattern that we invite you to submit a paper for the forthcoming issue of Interstices. For various publishing options and the required formatting, please refer to the Guidelines for Submissions on the Interstices website.
Send your paper to Susan Hedges (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 31 July 2017. Papers will be double blind refereed and, if accepted, published online, open access at http://interstices.aut.ac.nz/ijara/index.php/ijara in 2017.
Issue editors: Susan Hedges, Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul, Ross Jenner
Benjamin, A. (2006). Surface Effects: Borromini, Semper, Loos. The Journal of Architecture, 11(1), 1-35.
Bogue, R. (2003). Deleuze on Music, Painting and the Arts: Routledge: London.
Bruno, G. (2014). Surface: matters of aesthetics, materiality, and media: Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.
Cache, B. (1995). Earth Moves.
Clark, H. P. i. (2006). Kûkulu kauhale o limaloa: a Kanaka Maoli culture based approach to education through visual studies. (Doctor of Education Thesis), Massey University. Retrieved from http://mro.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/1459
Grosz, E. (1995). Space, time and perversion: the politics of bodies: New York: Allen & Unwin.
Lavin, S. (Fall, 2003). What You Surface is What You Get. Log, 1, 103 – 106.
Leatherbarrow, D., & Mostafavi, M. (2002). Surface architecture: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.
Nepia, P. M. (2013). Te Kore – Exploring the Māori concept of void. (Doctor of Philosophy Thesis),
University of Technology, Auckland, NZ. Retrieved from http://aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/5480
Papapetros, S. (Spring / Autumn 2010). “World Ornament: The legacy of Gottfried Semper’s 1856 lecture on adornment”. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, 57 / 58, 309-329.
Papapetros, S. On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture and the Extension of Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
Papapetros, S. (December 2013). From Ornament to Object to Surface. Oxford Art Journal, 36(3), 470 – 474.
Payne, Alina. “Living Stones, Crying Walls: The Dangers of Enlivenment in Architecture from Renaissance putti to Warburg’s Nachleben” in Art and Agency. The Secret Lives of Artworks. Ed. Caroline van Eck. Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2013. 301-32.
Spuybroek, Lars. The Architecture of Continuity. Rotterdam: V2 Publishing, 2008.
Schumacher, Patrik. “Parametric Patterns”, AD Architectural Design – Patterns of Architecture, Vol 79, No 6, November/December 2009,
Taylor, M. (November / December 2009). Relentless Patterns: The Immersive Interior. Architectural Design, 70(6), 43 – 47.
Tomlinson, M., & Tengan, T. P. K. (2016). Introduction: Mana Anew. In M. Tomlinson & T. P. K. Tengan (Eds.), New mana: transformations of a classic concept in Pacific languages and cultures (pp. 1-36). Acton ACT: ANU Press.
van Eck, Caroline. Art, Agency and living Presence: From the Animated Image to the Excessive Object, Berlin: De Gruyter; Leiden: Leiden University Press. 2015