The Wrath of Math

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In these days of artist surfblogs and folksonomic curating, there's a discernible pattern to the emergence of a net artist. Like a musician strategically leaking her new album to the interweb, net artists drop their new wares on del.icio.us, then sit back to watch the URL's bookmark history grow. (For an example of artists using del.icio.us as a creative platform, check out the tag cloud on veteran net artists JODI's account.) This week it was an illustrator named Math Wrath who caught social bookmarkers' hungry eyes. The artist's site feels like the web presence of The Little Prince, if said prince fell into Rainbo Brite's candy-coated astral world. Operating under a strictly pseudonymous handle, like many in the contemporary surf set, Math Wrath offers a fresh glance at familiar themes and forms ranging from video games to comic books. While Mountains offers an eternally-scrolling horizontal landscape that will feel familiar in shape to anyone experienced in playing auto racing games, the reversal of the traditional Left/Right scrolling direction relieves the viewer of the driver's role, instead making them more like the giddy, if bewildered, child passenger in the back of a station wagon. The work's juxtaposition of razor-sharp, sparkly diamond-dust stalagmites against a glowy sky merges two vocabularies that don't often find a horizon point. This uncanniness is perhaps more obvious in TayZonday in YouTube Limbo, in which a graphically low-level portrait of the Chocolate Rain phenom is adorned with a swirly geometric blindfold. The effect of this co-mingling of bitmaps, sprites, and blingee gifs feels akin to an orchestra dividing into factions, to play in different time signatures, yet somehow staying in tune. The artist is clearly familiar with contemporary memes, as evidenced by pieces like this, and yet it's as if the work floats free of any specific conventions (which may be to say "trends") with regard to net art idioms. Instead, Math Wrath's work speaks a sort of creole of surf jargon, game nostalgia, and interactivity. - Marisa Olson

Image Credit: Math Wrath, TayZonday in YouTube Limbo, 2008

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