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superstudio

︎Article, Architecture, Collage, Philosophy   
︎ Ventral Is Golden


"For those who, like ourselves, are convinced that architecture is one of the few ways to realise cosmic order on earth...it is a moderate utopia to imagine a near future in which all architecture will be created with a single act, from a single design capable of clarifying once and for all the motives which have induced man to build dolmens, menhirs, pyramids, and lastly to trace (ultima ratio) a white line in the desert."






As part of the Radical architectural movements of the late 1960s, Superstudio (founded by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia) became a major artistic studio who's output was highly conceptual and transcended the physical realm. In other words, they never made any physical buildings, but instead postulated the idea of 'anti-architecture'.

Their idea was one of a 'Supersurface'. A kind of all-consuming monolithic structure, pertaining towards a society of hyper-connectivity and networked energy. Superstudio saw that the dichotomy between the natural environment and the linear presence of the 'Continuous Monuments' for example, contained within their very nature a paradox. Whilst some of the structures have the ominous air of a dystopic future, potentially threatening to remove their inhabitants from nature, the problem is revoked as nature itself becomes part of the structure by way of surface reflection; trapped within the architectural materials.

Natalini believed there to be three types of intellectual research of the future; an architecture of the monument, of the image and of the technomorphic, all being particular metaphors for mediating the spaces between physical and metaphysical (or what we might call material and spiritual, technological and natural, permanent and transient).
All would comprise this idea of the reflection in the visual metaphors of The Continuous Monument series.




With a cultural intellectual stasis that saw the Modernism of the 1920's grind into a conservatism that looked backwards in order to preserve its structures, Superstudio began responding with satirical images of what the group saw as a capitalist tendency to disrupt the balance between urbanism and ecology.

A case in point was the flooding of Florence in 1966, a major reason for depopulation of residents and subsequent redevelopment for commercial interests (some figures state that there are two hundred tourists for every local, and the average age of residents is sixty-four years).
Rather than wanting to restore the conservative structures of the city, Superstudio proposed to block the Arno River in order to further submerge Florence. This would create an underground city and effectively an aquatic amusement resort town of Venice, claiming that the city had already been turned into a museum by the flood of tourism.



“Superstudio began responding with satirical images of what the group saw as a capitalist tendency to disrupt the balance between urbanism and ecology..”




Amid the visions of dystopia, however, Superstudio do offer a sense of reprieve through their abstractions of how we are to communicate with one another, and the opposing forces of industry and nature. To understand this I think we must look at how we are to define our current use of the word 'technology'.
Do we assume the divisions given to us by our sciences and philosophy, that technology primarily seeks to demonically oppress nature? Or do we assume the original Greek meaning of 'techne'' and 'logos' (to diligently apply a craft, to cultivate an art or become skilful in discourse)

Furthermore, if we take the original meaning of demonic for the Greek 'daemonic', we become the dispensers of earthly and divine knowledge, genius in our capacity to bridge both worlds, the source of our word 'ingenuity', and the central theme of Superstudio's desire "to create cosmic order on earth".











Further Reading ︎
NY Times article
Archizoom
Killing the Moonlight; Modernism in Venice, Jennifer Scappettone
Spectral Revolution, Jason Reza Jorjani


Mark