Jonathan Zawada on Flume, Flowers, and Making Mathematics Beautiful | Visionaries, Episode 1

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Whenever I’ve had a really great experience in my life it has just been me out in nature, but in my day to day existence I get very, very little of that.

So I think a lot of the work has been about trying to resolve those two things and how this thing that I want in my life can be applied to the actual things that are in my life and how I can unify those two things.

I’m Jonathan Zawada and I’m an artist and designer.

Over the years I guess I’ve worked on everything from music videos and album covers to oil paintings and sculptures, furniture objects and.

sort of anything, anything that I can make.

I feel like an octopus with a lot of tendrils really.

I guess when I was a kid – 15 or even younger, I finally saved up enough money to get a computer and prior to that I loved drawing and making things all the time.

And getting a computer wasn’t really any different for me So I think starting quite young with it meant that I never really separated them into two boxes.

And the more I did it the more I felt like separating out one of the mediums felt sort of unsatisfying.

And I guess that just compounded over the years as technology more and more ubiquitous.

When we moved to America we did this incredible road trip through Yosemite and to Utah and Nevada and all over the place, and was just blown away by the incredible vastness and scale and the suddenness of the geography here.

And being from Australia, there’s almost no mountain ranges and so that's what I was attracted to I was never much exposed to or interested in flowers until I would repeatedly be punished for giving them the wrong name.

Annie would be so unimpressed when I would name a geranium a gladiola or something but I’m educating myself now and I’ve gotten quite into the whole process so I guess something like the Flume project has been… I really connected to that.

All of the texturing and all of the colouration and everything in that is done procedurally as well, so that’s all node structures and mini little algorithms that generate the appearance of partly what the petal is and also the tiny little disturbances on the surface are.

There’s kind of a mathematics aspect to it that I find validates that that makes it not this airy fairy, I love nature kind of thing.

but you know, digging a little deeper into aspects of fractal growth and stuff like that.

There’s a different way of approaching that stuff which is like hand painting those things and feeding them in, but it doesn't – that feels like cheating to me.

To start with something as tiny as some numbers and plugging them together, that feels real, you know? As that kind of gathered steam, the label and Harley were keen for me to be involved in translating that into live show stuff.

Just these really flights of fancy kind of responses to the music weaponry that’s all been quite defaced and then turns into gold that melts Our son has a genetic condition called Potocki-Shaffer Syndrome which is a genetic deletion so he was slow to develop Prior to him being born I had sort of had this real fascination with science and to a limited extent replaced that religion slot in my brain and I thought it was all amazing and all incredibly interesting but after he was diagnosed I ended up just being frustrated at that and kind of angered by it – angered at the abstraction of science and how far away from the reality it was.

So, since that point I’ve focused more on just what is innately, humanly interesting in a visceral response kind of way.

After he was diagnosed I did these mesh pieces that are just – they don’t do anything other than be arresting So I think a lot of the time my work is just trying to create something that I feel like is valid conceptually and has that to it, but if you walk into a room you can just enjoy looking at it at the same time.

The Mark Pritchard release from this year on Warp was the first time ever that I’ve really felt like I was just collaborating in a genuinely, creatively fulfilling way.

I love it mostly because he loves it so much as well and he supported me and argued with the label about it and maintained this vision that I vaguely thought I wanted to do but I was never quite sure and he helped me feel like “no that is exactly what I want to do" So that feels like it’s probably the strongest.

one of the strongest pieces of work that I’ve done.

It’s really exciting making stuff now I think I’ve given up on thinking of myself as an artist or a designer and I think I just like making stuff.

Tech – we talk about it like it’s something else and really now, it’s all just that same thing it’s part of the world and part of the fabric of the world it’s not an other thing.

Source: Youtube