Exploring various mediums in both sonic and visual spheres, with overlap in the form of video, VR and performance has been the creative and thematic nexus of visual artist and music producer Fred Clarke, however, working under the pseudonym Mathroom. Clarke’s artistic outputs and interrogations under the alias of Mathroom are made manifest both through the forms of music and that of visual art. Conceptually, Clarkes work exists in a space of meditative liminality oscillating between philosophies and considerations of science, mathematics and spirituality — more so than religion — as the sense of Saṃsāra in connected expansiveness one feels when engaging with his work is too infinite a space of possibility for the 1+1= 2 logic of finite answers modern organised religion is sometimes governed by. “Clarke’s work argues that it is an ’insolvable and infinite question’, as in the philosophical ’chicken or egg?’ debate (and all manner of hypothetical religious wonderings). Like any binary, you can’t have one without the other, Clarke explains. It is like a game”. Musically, Mathroom produces on a variety of analog synthesisers, drum machines, digital VST’s, samples and recorded instruments. His sound ranges in mood, tempo, genre and theme, with emphasis on sonic texture. Inspiration is drawn from West Coast hiphop, experimental breakcore, lo-fi and dusty frequencies, and often a nostalgic revisitation of analog machinery and it’s particular sonic essence. Visually Clarke’s work explores a variety of mediums, predominantly drawing, printmaking, and spray paint, on glass and walls. Thematically the work explores symbol, composition, abstract geometry and coding, intermittently populated with figurative elements. Over the years his work has turned to an almost purely abstract form, utilising numbers, letters, and general mathematical/language componentry to play with and express new forms of combination. Speaking more about his praxis Fred shared:
I’m interested in the way a line, a shape, a colour, and combinations thereof, can really influence and impart emotional and intellectual response and reaction. There are marks of fear, love, danger, celebration – each line, note, and frequency carries the intention it was created with. In this way even completely abstracted marks and sounds, or very simple ones, can communicate on levels that are both intuitively understood and mysterious.
Mathroom’s latest single and music video release “Telepathy”, ahead of his 8 track Angel EP release, is rooted in the same philosophy and methodology one could call a sonic poetics of metaphysics. I’ve never had an affinity towards science or Mathematics, however, I think the main underlying reason for this is a fundamental failure by institutions of formal education to make manifest the latent poetry, beauty and music in both, of placing both within the history of humanity’s evolution as types of language systems that say something about the wonders and obscurities of our multiverses:
The name Mathroom was derived from an interest in maths as a universal language, that in many ways was more discovered than invented. It exists in art, music, nature, and pretty much every facet of our experience on Earth and the Universe. When I create, I like to think of it as a blind exploration of these layered paradigms, finding new forms, compositions, and combinations of elements in an equation of expression and inquisition, says Clarke talking about the essence of his alias. “Telepathy” sounds like the figured sonic memories of a dream riddled with blinding light; ultralight-beam-dreams or an ultralight beam in dreaming—imagining itself moving through variations of space, density, distance, matter. The accompany video for the single is what one could call a glitch art montage:
…made up of several layers. The first being a drawing made for the Invisible Exhibition (2017), hosted by The Centre For The Less Good Idea, South Africa. The idea was that all the artworks were to be created in VR software Tiltbrush, and would then be augmented, and revealed through iPads at the opening, which at the time was a first in South Africa. Mathroom created the orb made up of hundreds of hand drawn marks, and titled the Drawing Quasar. This was then animated to be slowly rotating and hovering in space. Subsequently, Eden Labs Africa – who initially pioneered the VR collaboration with CFTLGI – began Creative Friday sessions, where artists from various field are invited to work for a day with cutting edge creative tools. During this session the Quasar was animated in Unity, and effectively filmed from various angles, lighting and diving into the detail of the 3D drawing from various angles, including juxtapositions with still shots. The final layer of the video was assembled in Final Cut Pro, where the exported Unity video files were cut, arranged and manipulated further, resulting in the project of “Telepathy”. It is essentially a deep dive into the abstract workings of the human brain and spirit, exploring the notion of our unseen abilities and potential for expansion, both physically and consciously. We are all connected, like the wiring of a giant circuit board, and perhaps our electromagnetic bodies hold more ability that we realise.