Utopia final by A.Laurel


Research collage by me

When putting together a research moodboard in preparation for my "Utopia" brief final outcome, I was trying to build up a vibe of the perfect cross-aesthetic between a 60s inspired vintage psychedelic sci-fi fantasy look (as seen in Gandahar, Rene Laloux 1988 -bottom right of the collage) and a more conceptual, minimalistic approach to the concept of utopia, looking at texture and material like Nadine Goepfert and Lisa Haag's collaborative project in "Utoption" (2013)

- you can read up more on those two references in my previous posts. However, unintentionally when trying to whip up layers of visual to refer to when creating my final outcome, I stumbled on the perfect series of images that create the exact vibe I was trying to obtain.

The series come from a project called "Happy Island" (1971) by a collaborative group of architects who called themselves SUPERSTUDIO. Whats an architecture squad doing creating some madass visuals you may ask? Well it was the 60's son. Like the "You Say You Want To Start a Revolution" exhibition (currently on at the V&A) demonstrates so well, the development of arts, music and culture came to a mass epiphany where movements were being made to do exactly not what you are told to do. Get it? Kinda? Well in this case, around the 60s and throughout the 70s, architects started exploring the idea of "Conceptual Architecture" -I mean the same thing was basically happening with music and almost all other mediums of the arts at the time too. But specifically in architecture you are taught all about function and purpose blah blah ...the past decade would of seen the rise of modernism n big purposeful block cement high-rise buildings so by now everything in architecture would of been modernist this, modernist that, its no surprise a group like SUPERSTUDIO came along and was like "what if we designed stuff with 0 function...what if they just mean things? what if we were to just take the piss out of everything around us??"

SUPERSTUDIO are arguably one of the first major groups to pursue conceptual architecture, which of course wasn't formally given that label then, you could just call it Post-Modernism. But it really stands out to me because at first, I saw their work and thought it was something made decades after - nostalgically recreating the time in a post-modernist cynical manner. But when I then read that these are authentically vintage images and not just emulating the era I was more like "rah they were a bit ahead of their time init?" they were making some serious post modernist shit when modernism had just come to rise. A bit cliche but it could even pass as some street-art style banksy stuff too.

Even more so impressive when you realise photoshop didn't exist at the time and these images are pure Ink, airbrush, graphite, and cut-and-pasted printed paper on paper according to the MoMA site who also left a real banging analysis of the second "Happy Island" image in the side above.

"In this photomontage a domestic idyll floats on an infinite grid. This backdrop is the Supersurface, a proposed service network or global "circuit board" that would transform the built environment from an architecture of singular objects to a continuous landscape on which people would roam nomadically, plugging into the grid’s resources as needed. The hidden technical infrastructure represents an open framework for a new lifestyle but also an omnipresent system of control. Superstudio’s images, supplemented by cutouts from popular media, emphasize this idea with an ironic undertone akin to the Pop art of the time."

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