[ISEA2019] Artist Statement: Peter Nelson — Data Stones

Artist Statement

Data visualisation animation.

Data Stones explores the overlap of Chinese and European philosophies offered by data visualisation. A database of every message sent between two people, accumulated through the regular internet usage is transformed into a computer generated rock. These stones are produced procedurally from the mun- dane dialogue accumulated by the everyday use of instant messaging. I download thousands of messages sent between two people and sort them according to length, date and content (using Latent Dirichlet Allocation). These various means of processing extract patterns and sentiments in what never had any intrinsic order. The stone is treated like a graph, where the statistical patterns my sentiments determines its shape, and becomes an object for contemplation and speculation. Data Stones relying on the logic that if a system encoded a stone, then it can always theoretically be decoded. In contemplating these stones, we hope to crystallize our thoughts, and finds ourselves, staring back.
Data Stones is presented as a single-channel video animation of a unique procedurally generated stone, accompanied by a musical composition. The stone is generated from the accumulated conversational data between my sister, and myself and the musical composition is based on the LDA analysis of the dominant topics that have emerged over the years of our relationship, based on what has been recorded by our use of instant message applications.
Sound by Tom Smith.

  • Peter Nelson is a visual artist and early career academic working at the intersection of landscape theory and computer games. Originally trained in painting and drawing, Nelson currently produces exhibitions across a number of media, from painting and drawing, to animation, 3D printed sculpture and interactive game-based systems. Across these disciplines, he is engaged in a prolonged consideration of the history of landscape images, how they are remediated by technological shifts, and how these shifts absorb and reflect changes in our relationships with the physical environment. He has been working between Australia and East Asia for the past 10 years, and has undertaken residency projects with Taipei Artist Village (Taipei), Organhaus (Chongqing), Red Gate Gallery (Beijing), Serial Space (Sydney) and the City of Sydney. He has held numerous group and solo exhibitions, including projects with HanArt TZ Gallery (Hong Kong), The National Palace Museum (Taiwan), The Sichuan Fine Art Academy Museum (Chongqing) and the K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong). He has recently completed a PhD with the School of Creative Media (Hong Kong), researching the historical implications of computer game landscapes.