More Than 2-D: Assume Vivid Astro Focus in Print

assume vivid astro focus (Rizzoli), a new self-titled monograph, is improbably the first by the prolific and media-savvy art collective—apparently it takes a lot to get them into just two dimensions. Flipping the pages, distorted portraits of the transvestite-next-door commingle with drawings of lilies in pastel and woven psychedelic motifs. It’s a full production on each page.

Initiated by Brazilian-born artist Eli Sudbrack in 1994 as a professional tag, assume vivid astro focus started as a single artist working as if he were a collective. Seven years later, Sudbrack was joined by French multimedia artist Christophe Hamaide Pierson—and a continuously evolving international group of artists have subsequently hopped onboard, making assume vivid astro focus the movement they are now, known for creating multi-sensational mash-ups of graffiti, disco worship, gay porn and carnival in the form of large-scale installations and performance art. Their book, a visual tome of 270 cut-and-paste collaged illustrations, indexes artworks that had shown in the Whitney Biennial, Deitch Projects, and Peres Projects, and commissioned as public art in Argentina and Italy.

In the introduction, Natalie Kovacs, an independent public performance art curator, encourages the effects of over-stimulation brought on by kaleidoscope art. The visual surprise of frenzied color and text require interaction, and you have to be avaf’s enablers. Kovacs explains, “‘avaf’ is activated by the participation of others. It is a catalyst, a stage, or a performative tarmac whereby we lift off from our former notions or preconceptions to embark on a journey within.” For its part, the book offers give-aways—from posters, stickers and pop-ups to a 3D mask in the very front—in case you weren’t convinced this was the wildest technicolor trip you never took. In homocrap#1 (2005), a room-sized blow-up doll bends over backwards, sexually suggestive but static while the room around her pulsates with life, strobe lights virtually jumping off the page. The pages randomly alternate in texture from matte to glossy, so each flip sends a subtle surprise to the touch while the mind tries to take in the layers of graphic effect. Even black and white speaks volumes in a political three-page pullout spread talking life, death and love in nudes. In an age of attention deficit, avaf doesn’t give distraction a chance.