about comboworks

In a special collaboration, artist collective assume vivid astro focus and non-profit organization Art21 invite the global creative community to participate in avaf + art21 comboworks, an interactive collaborative project.

A recurring device throughout the artist collective’s work has been a play on the “avaf” acronym. Phrases using the avaf acronym, created by both the artists and friends of the artists, have been used as titles for works and exhibitions. The phrases—or “combos”—also appear in the artists’ email signatures.

Visitors to the avaf + art21 comboworks website are invited to participate in this collaborative process by submitting their own combos. Participants simply input a four-word combination into the comboworks website, which then outputs an image of the submitted phrase displayed in a custom “LED” typeface designed by the artists. Each “avaf combo” image can then be shared across blogs and social networks.

Visitors may browse through other submissions and continue to add to the public gallery of combinations. avaf + art21 comboworks is an on-going project that will continue to grow as more combinations are created.

The artists will also be tracking submissions, many of which may eventually be added to the artists’ ever-growing list of active combos. (Read the Terms of Use for more information about how submissions may be used.)

This collaborative project cannot succeed without your participation! When you are ready, we invite you to browse the gallery and create a combination of your own.


The “avaf combos” have become a favorite work by the artists. In a 2010 V Magazine conversation with writer and curator Cay-Sophie Rabinowitz, Eli Sudbrack of assume vivid astro focus describes the combos as “pretty much the ultimate realization of our projects, the simplest, most playful and one of the most successful ways to set our beliefs in motion.”

More on the combos from Eli Sudbrack, excerpted from the V Magazine conversation:

We incorporate every single new acronym people send us into our list. Mostly, we only “reject” submissions with made up words or words that are a combination of two words together – but that is not 100% true, we make some exceptions as well. We don’t usually change someone’s contribution either, but there are exceptions there as well.

Consecutive consequence sounds like an extremely appropriate term to describe one of the types of movement that is ignited with this practice since many of them are also a response to already existing acronyms. But when creating our own combos, we have different construction strategies and our collaborators follow similar paths. The most common is the construction of an actual sentence that makes sense, which often very emblematic (like ‘acrobatic vampire anticipates freefall’), other times we split the four letters in two groups and make two separate meanings by the combinations which exude conclusion (like ‘alternative versions additional formats’ or ‘activate vanguard anthem force’), other times we create acronyms out of adjectives which often have a somehow humorous and affected approach (like ‘amorous voluminous atrocious ferocious’), or calls to action (like ‘arms viable and fast’). Revealing and concealing are part of the usual tensions (like sex and no sex, aggression and sweetness, contemplation and explosion, freedom and repression) we use as strategies already in our work, and both the masks and the acronyms carry these aspects for sure.

Read the full interview on the V Magazine website [Part I; Part II].

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