Assembly is an experimental series of artworks that explores shared creation and collective ownership, conceived by all 35 members of the multidisciplinary creative studio Acrylicize across its London and Seattle offices.

An image is created from the viewpoint of one person as the starting point for the work. Then the journey of the creative process begins, as the image is passed from person to person individually via the social media platform WhatsApp. Each recipient is asked to manipulate the image however they want, but only by using their mobile phone to do so, before passing it onto the next person and so on. Each stage is performed in isolation and in doing so, the image slowly morphs and evolves as it passes through each person’s perspective on its way to completion.

The constraints placed on the production process drive innovation to produce unique aesthetic results. Each new image created highlights the ubiquity of the mobile phone interface, as well as many hallmarks from contemporary communication and the digital landscape, such as glitches and CMYK colour tones, to the use of symbols and emojis. By the nature of this creative process, the work inherently challenges what it means to be an artist, as the studio collectively relinquishes control of the final outcome, instead placing the power in each person’s hands to take the artwork where they feel it needs to go.

As such, the work champions individual perspectives over any enforced rules, guidelines or expectations and in doing so seeks to democratise the art process. The series pays homage to the “Exquisite Cadaver” technique championed by the surrealists in Paris approximately 100 years ago. In more recent times, this chaotic nature of creation echoes much of the information that’s shared across the digital sphere, particularly via social media where the source of the information is often unclear, and the origins of a narrative can warp and evolve as quickly as the information is shared. These artworks, being conceived during the UK’s Covid-19 “lockdown” period, seek to highlight the resilience of an artist’s creative expression to illustrate that constraints, far from being the enemy of creativity, can often be a powerful source of inspiration and opportunity. Creativity always has a way of shining through, even during the most challenging of situations.

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