Gerald Matt in discussion with assume vivid astro focus


GM: I am assuming that it is most correct to address you as you in the plural (instead of the singular). Are the answers I will receive to my questions be joint answers, or will one of you take turns speaking once and then the other? Does one of you speak for everyone?

avaf: We will all of us will bring in our insights to form one written voice. It may be that just one of us talking or it may be a combination of our voices, depending on the question.

GM: How does decision-making work in a collective? Can everything actually be discussed and always resolved with consensus?

avaf: It's less about consensus, and more about trust and admiration. We trust each other and admire the one another's visions. Sometimes, one of us brings up an idea that is contrary to what the others were thinking, but it is accepted out of admiration anyway. That presents us with new roads and ways of seeing the work to us. We are not control freaks and, in fact, we like change and challenges. There is no master mind who tells the others what we will go for. So, whenever we are faced with a situation of decision-making, we will either go for the most reasonable option, or for the change-- for what we haven't done yet. As the work is composed of so many different layers, there is room for various decisions.

GM: Particularly in the 20th century, the role of the author was heavily discussed. Post-structuralists, such as Michel Foucault or Roland Barthes, have even announced the death of the author, and thereby - as it were - generated the birth of the reader. With a multiple authorship, does the accent shift from an over-powerful author in favour of the recipient?

avaf: We truly wish that was true. We think though that this shift is a bit more complicated to happen than just questioning authorship. It is also related to the way the institutions usually work. Our projects are particularly affected by this relationship, because whatever we bring to a spaceis made specifically for it. There is a lot of self-censorship and paranoia concerning lawsuits from the institutions side nowadays, that end up in many ways shaping artists' projects. For us in fact, the biggest challenge is always the institution, which constantly brings obstacles whenever we want to shift the power to the recipient. We are frequently asked to rearrange/change our ideas. It's not that we bring put a finished and self-contained painting that is ready and closed in itself to the space and just hang it up. What we do is closely related to the relationship with the institution and its space. We see its best and its worse sides. And what is interesting about this is that this is some sort of history that is never talked about. There is no outlet for these raw ideas that are reshaped by the institution. We also feel disconnected from the press, which is another big challenge for us. The press is always referencing to you in comparison to a recent past, and it can never neutralize itself from history. It's as if the past is always necessary to understand the present. We would like to propose a test to challenge writers and critics to refrain from relating an artist to any past, and to talk about the work from a present point of view. We feel that these relations to the past are easy and create a biased the approach to your work in a very biased way. For this reason, the new is never seen. And this oppressive relation, to both the institution and the press, ends up shaping the way the viewer experiences your work. But to stress your point, our butch queen realness with a twist in pastel colors video program is, indeed, closely related to the issue of empowering the viewer. Probably, the main reason for us behind creating bqrwtpc is to share knowledge. Knowledge is power, power for creating and directing of your own life. bqrwtpc offers a comment on the inaccessibility of these video pieces. TV programs, like Soul Train, or music videos by people like Klaus Nomi were never released on video, or are have been out of print for many years. A good section of this program is based on constant ongoing internet-based research to find bootleg copies of these materials through eBay, yahoo groups, and on-line community and /discussion groups. So, we are presenting our own research, a research that is, in fact, available to all viewers as well. You just need internet access. In this way, we expect to bring knowledge to the public and entice them to make do their own research on the materials they feel most connected with. To some extent, collectiveness and anonymity are also a way of questioning such notions, such as, biography, intention, inspiration, responsibility, and copyright.

GM: Where did does the name assume vivid astro focus come from? What is the history of assume vivid astro focus? How long have you existed?

avaf: avaf should always be referred to in lower case. One of our members was once taken aback by another a guy named ASTRO, a make-up artist who lives in New York. At first, we were fascinated by the broad range of usage and mass media connections to the name ASTRO: astroboy, astrology, astroturf, astronaut, astroflight, astromovers. We were already looking for a new pseudonym at that moment, and thought ASTRO was would be a good project name for us. Then, we went with another early incarnation as superastrolab, but that was too much like the band Stereolab, and it was too hip. We wanted something that would be harder to remember and definitely something long, a name like Exploding Plastic Inevitable. We also wanted a name that didn't have any cutesy meaning when abbreviated. Around that same time, there was this record cover show happening at Exit Art in New York called Cover Me, which we had all visited and loved. It was more than just the cover designs and images: we were also intrigued by the words, the bands names, and the album's titles. We then decided to go back to the show and write down every single word that would appeal to us with no reference to where it was cameoming from, so we could completely disconnect the word from its origin. That's when avaf was born, sometime around mid - 2001. A few years later, a friend gave us a book on Throbbing Gristle (TG) and we were able to track down the possible roots of two of the words we chose to use. TG's collection of rare tracks was entitled "Assume Power Focus". Music is, indeed, some sort of a symbol for our activities. avaf became NOT an entity, NOT a character, but a project name. We wanted to use a pseudonym (which we all had used before in different ways and places), so people could focus on the work and not on our personalities. We are not interested in the whole star fuckers scene. We want to live a simple life and hang out with simple people like us. We want to be contaminated by other people. We want to have friends. We believe in generosity and equality, in sharing and inclusiveness. How many people are in the collective varies according to the projects we are involved with. For that reason, there is no sense in showing our faces, and that's why we always wear masks. And, by the way, we want to have different pseudonyms for each different project we produce. We recently started doing this with absorb viral attack fantasy. The next one will be: a very anxious feeling and alucinete vadia arregaća o foco.

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