The more high school seniors smoke pot, the more music they buy. The more people Google "money," the less often they search for "problems." The hotter the night, the more married couples divorce.
These are a few of the off-beat sociological observations from Jonathan Zawada, an Australian artist whose first U.S. solo exhibition Over Time, opens at Prism gallery in Los Angeles this weekend. Zawada is a self-proclaimed tech-junkie, and each of his drawings and large-scale neon landscape paintings offers interpretations of the digital world.
Gallery: Jonathan Zawada: Over Time
Isabel Wilkinson is an assistant editor at The Daily Beast.
Zawada began by collecting random pieces of data—some of which were inspired by his Internet searches, such as, "Why plants are green?"—on simple graphs. He then transformed his findings to 3-D using a scenery-generating software program called TerraGen. Selecting various conditions for light, fog, and atmosphere with the program, Zawada created surreal mountain environments. From there, he transferred the landscapes to paint—a sort of digital photo-realism—using his computer screen as a guide.
The result is a series of unpopulated, ragged landscapes rendered in a range of neon colors. They have a computer-generated feel, like the hazy, mountainous backdrops of computer games. Zawada's original graphs are mounted on plinths in front of each painting, providing what simultaneously feels like a game console and a hiking map.
Though there's a digital air to each piece, the fact that the landscapes have been rendered by hand is a testament to Zawada's skill as a draughtsman. His ability is also evident in his drawings, which contain objects from his online games.
At home in Sydney, Zawada is a graphic designer for various fashion companies and publications. He is also a fan of Mario Kart and maintains a blog called Fashematics (some of his work has appeared exclusively on The Daily Beast. "I spend a lot of time on my computer or playing video games," he says. "But it doesn't leave you with anything. It's not like how after 20 years of reading books, you're left with a library. Traditional experiences leave artifacts—but virtual experiences don't." That is, until now.