Truth’s Architectural Graffiti and Ornament as Crime

Truth Tag 1

[original image viaTruth]

A Polish artist working under the pseudonym “Truth” creates what is perhaps best described as architectural graffiti — minimal, abstract forms made of polystyrene which he (or perhaps she) then attaches to buildings. The objects are intended to respond in some way to the architecture upon which they are installed, but while I appreciate the work, the relationship between object and building is obtuse at best. I do, however, find the idea of architectural graffiti insanely compelling. Taken as a criminal act, it gives strange new life to Adolf Loos’ immortal—and sometimes immoral—1908 essay, “Ornament and Crime,” in which he describes ornament in terms not far removed from how many people think of today’s graffiti. “The man of our time,” says Loos, “who daubs the walls with erotic symbols to satisfy an inner urge is a criminal or a degenerate.” That Loos, what a character. Inspired by this slightly meandering train of thought, I thought about reversing Truth’s juxtapostion between the clean, modern, geometric forms of the “graffiti” and the industrial, often heavily patinated buildings that he seems to prefer.

Truth Tag 2

[original image viaTruth]

And why not give these interventions a purpose? Lighting or seating, something that uses, and perhaps even subverts, a familiar architectural language to illegally embellish the surrouding context as well as the building itself. To test these ideas, surely than can be no better canvas that Mr. Loos’ restrained masterpiece, the Villa Mueller.


[original Villa Mueller image via flickr photographer Patrick McHugh]

Improving a Loos

[original Villa Mueller image via flickr photographer p2an]

We can only hope that Loos is rolling in his grave. The idea of “vandals” sneaking around at night carrying backpacks full of sconces, plaster water fountains, and industrial strength adhesive is incredibly appealing to me. We need more (creatively-inclined and only slightly artistically malicious) architecture vandals “intervening” where they see fit; “building” wherever they can.

&#183 polish graffiti sculptures by truth [Design Boom]

7 replies on “Truth’s Architectural Graffiti and Ornament as Crime”

You have quite a collection of pictures. Really awesome. Though I’m not of an architect, I will definitely forward your web link to my engineer friends.

I will as a layman also take note of these photos. Thanks a lot man.

Hi. I’ve followed your website for awhile and appreciate your informative posts. This one was especially good.
I’m picturing a swathe of vinyl siding tagged to the side of the Barcelona Pavilion or Truth hitting up the Parthenon and causing a real scandal.

man. this is one of those occasions where i think “i wish i’d thought of that.” pff. i think it’s a really cool idea. the possibilities….

thanks for this post! its good to know there are people out there making an actual statement! i think it is a great idea. im glad there are people out there thinking about ways to critique the urban environment other than just writing your name on a wall. as an architect, i would love that truth picked one of my buildings to place its architectural graffiti!!

Kevic – love it. I tried some photoshoppery with the Barcelona Pavillion, but it didn’t make the cut. That building is just asking for it though, so maybe next time.

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