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Supersurface - An alternative model for life on the Earth

Superstudio

Towards alternative architecture narrations.


"Supersuperficie" (Supersurface), made by Superstudio in 1972, is one of the most original expressions of a design activity elaborated by architects in the form of a film. It was produced by Marchi Produzioni with a sponsorship of Anic, on the occasion of the "Italy: the New Domestic Landscape" exhibition curated by Emilio Ambasz at MoMA in 1972 in New York. It is the very first episode in the "Atti Fondamentali" (Fundamental Acts) series that collected, according to Superstudio, five primary acts in human life: Vita (Life), Educazione (Education), Cerimonia (Ceremony), Amore (Love), Morte (Death). Supersuperficie corresponds to Vita, the first act.

The story is shaped around the theme of human life. Initial scenes, accompanied by sounds of ancestral drums or fetal heart beats, perhaps muffled by an amniotic fluid, are somehow connected to the end of the film where a kind of hymn to life takes place as a crescendo introducing the final statements: "our life will be the only art."

Multiple narrative layers are offered in this film: the verbal record gives room to a profound story: evocative, never literal. The visual record, rooted in the pictorial identity expressed in the film's storyboard (published in the same year on "Casabella" magazine), tends to freeze images in stable forms. The overlapping of these layers and the contamination with other inner narrations offers the spectator an original palimpsest, rich in inventions, irony, and weighty in meanings.

Images related to the "Monumento Continuo" (Continuous Monument) project's iconography, elaborated by Superstudio between 1969 and 1970, serve to baste a powerful visual narration. These images, however, are integrated by a wider iconography that reflects diverse areas of interest for Superstudio's members. Consequently, iconic architectural images as Reyner Banham's Environmental Bubble or the gigantic geodetic structure covering Manhattan designed by Buckminster Fuller are shown together with pictures abstracted from popular and scientific magazines and re-connoted in a new context, manipulated, sometimes edited in chroma key. The subsequent visual narration, stabilized in the form of film, has an origin in the educational activity of Superstudio, based on audio-visual stories offered to students at the School of architecture of the University of Florence.

Words and images work together in this and in other films by Superstudio by generating effects of vision and disorientation. Their narration capitalizes on irony, provocation, paradox. It is through this approach that a rigorous discourse upon the architecture and design discipline and their final extents is offered. An attempt to refound the role of architecture takes place in this film, based on the idea that human beings are the only creators of their own choices: finally nomadic, they can free themselves from induced needs and behaviors, and pick their own place, everywhere on the Earth's "supersurface". The design activity doesn't lead towards objects and goods predefined in their formal and aesthetic aspects anymore. It manifests itself as a potential device instead, for "a life anymore based upon labor, but on not alienated human relations" for "an alternative model of life on Earth."

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Superstudio
Mentioned project: Supersurface (1972)
Producer: Marchi

Italy 1972
Duration: 9'28''