A new generation of supergraphics

A new generation of supergraphics
Deborah Sussman's playful graphic identity for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games
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Supergraphics - as the name hints - are graphics on a big scale. Which is fitting since they were also a big - even revolutionary - concept, cooked up by some of the most radical post-modern architects of the 1960s. The idea? To apply paint and graphics to both the interior and exterior of buildings in a defiant act that would 'remove solidity, gravity, even history' - and certainly cause some alarm to those more reverential modernists. According to architect Robert Venturi: 'One does not paint on Mies.' The only thing small about the architectural movement was its time frame; supergraphics abided by the decade's mantra to 'live fast, die young'.

But, although the term - coined by writer C Ray Smith - first applied to the postmodern architects he called the Supermannerists, their ideology has survived and today supergraphics have been resurrected in the realm of special effects. Building facades can now magically shift and change with embedded LEDs, while those sacrosanct modernist glass walls are the perfect backdrop for computing and projection systems.

London's Seeper (opens in new tab), founded by Evan Grant in 1998, is one of a new breed of studios conjuring up temporary architectural transformations. Using architectural projection mapping - projected images that replicate the building beneath - and fast-moving 3D graphics, Seeper's interventions appear to transform a physical structure itself.

A new generation of supergraphics

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Watch the video of the Battle of Branchage by Seeper

'We allow people to "pull apart" a building using motions or iPhones,' says Grant. Seeper's installations are logic-defying spectacles, which distort and warp a building's perspective to mind-boggling effect. The studio's future holds much promise: 'We're exploring ways to create kinetic buildings, from movable walls to bio-technologies.'

A new generation of supergraphics

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Watch the video of Kraft Work by Seeper

A new generation of supergraphics

Deborah Sussman and The Jerde Partnership were co-design directors in creating the 'look' of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

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A new generation of supergraphics

The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, photographed by Deborah Sussman

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A new generation of supergraphics

The Los Angeles Olympic Games project encompassed forty-three art sites, twenty-eight game venues and three villages

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A new generation of supergraphics

The BorgWarner steelworks and technology plant project by Jean-Philippe Lenclos

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A new generation of supergraphics

A design by the French colourist Jean-Philippe Lenclos in the Parisian suburbs, 1972, photographed by J.F Gaudineau

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A new generation of supergraphics

Lenclo's work at Port Barcarés Gondolys shipyard

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A new generation of supergraphics

A close up of the east façade at the Port Barcarès project, 1969, photographed by Lenclos

(Image credit: Lenclos)

A new generation of supergraphics

The Solmer steel plant project in Fos-sur-Mer by Jean-Philippe Lenclos

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A new generation of supergraphics

Rainbow-like paintwork at the Solmer project, in Fos-sur-Mer by Jean-Philippe Lenclos

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A new generation of supergraphics

Supergraphic design work at the Solmer industrial site in Fos-sur-Mer by Jean-Philippe Lenclos

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A new generation of supergraphics

Development plan drawings for the Solmer steel plant project, by Jean-Philippe Lenclos

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A new generation of supergraphics

London's Westminster Academy, which opened in 2007, with supergraphics by Studio Myerscough

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A new generation of supergraphics

Front perspective of the stairs at the Westminster Academy, 2007, photographed by Tim Soar

(Image credit: Tim Soar)

A new generation of supergraphics

Inside perspective of the development stages of the Westminster Academy, 2007, photographed by Tim Soar

(Image credit: Tim Soar)

A new generation of supergraphics

The Kentish Town health centre, designed by Studio Myerscough in 2009

(Image credit: Tim Soar)

A new generation of supergraphics

Monochromic block lettering is used throughout the health centre

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A new generation of supergraphics

Colourful supergraphics are used within the reception area at the Kentish Town health centre, 2009

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A new generation of supergraphics

Overlapping colour is used on the walls throughout the corridors in the centre

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A new generation of supergraphics

The reception area at the health centre

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A new generation of supergraphics

Primary colours surround the entrance to the health centre's bathrooms

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A new generation of supergraphics

The centre was nominated for the Architecture Stirling Prize 2009

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A new generation of supergraphics

Huge block designs adorn the walls

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A new generation of supergraphics

A transformed 1960s South East Train commuter carriage, as part of the arts and regeneration scheme, The Deptford Project, by Studio Myerscough, 2008

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A new generation of supergraphics

Myerscough designed the space, hand-painted the graphics and designed and made the furniture, using as many sustainable materials as possible

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A new generation of supergraphics

Paula Scher's 2004 typographic revamp of a 1940s building for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark

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A new generation of supergraphics

Interior graphics designed for the 42nd St Studios interior in New York

(Image credit: Paula Scher)

A new generation of supergraphics

Graphics in the stairwell at the 42nd Street Studios.

(Image credit: Paula Scher)

A new generation of supergraphics

Environmental graphics for the Achievement First Endeavor Middle School, by Pentegram, 2010, 

(Image credit: Peter Mauss)

A new generation of supergraphics

Block colour inside the Endeavor Middle School

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