Dr Peter AC Nelson is an art historian, game scholar and visual artist working at the intersection of computer game and landscape studies. 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 exhibited his artworks widely, including projects with HanArt TZ Gallery (Hong Kong), The National Palace Museum (Taiwan), The Sichuan Fine Art Academy Museum (Chongqing), the K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong) and HowArt Museum (Shanghai) and is a regular contributor to the Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, DiGRA and Chinese DiGRA, of which he is a current board member.
Peter is an Assistant Professor at the Academy of Visual Arts and the Augmented Creativity Lab at Hong Kong Baptist University where he is working on research projects that span player-generated content, landscape encoding using Generative Adversarial Networks and the ontology of the digital image. He is also author of the book 'Computer Games As Landscape Art' (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023).
Dr Peter AC Nelson is currently working on a number of group and individual projects. In his studio, he is working on a new series of paintings that combine ink painting with computer-aided drawing and a small scale robotics and interactivity project. He has also recently finished a new version of his data visualisation project The Data Stones.
Project title: Collaborative Artistic Production with Generative Adversarial Networks
Co-PIs: Mr Daniel Shanken, Dr Roberto Alonso Trillo, Dr Francois Mouillot
Project Description: The social and cultural significance of machine learning is often defined by polarised perspectives. Machine-learning might be seen as opening exciting new pathways for creativity, or as a fundamental threat to the role of the artist. The development of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) as a classification and production mechanism represents a new opportunity for artists and humanities scholars to re-examine fundamental aspects of creativity. Recent publications in 3D mesh-generating GANs suggest that such systems might have profound impacts for sculpture and design practice. These impacts might challenge basic principles of form, function and aesthetics, and the creative use of such technologies might result in new and novel forms of data encryption. Given the rapid acceleration in the capacity and variety of these systems, it is critical that humanities scholars engage from both practical and theoretical level. We use a four-stage structure, where each stage is directed by one team member relative to their specialisation, and each stage builds upon knowledge gained in the previous stage. We work in close collaboration with an external consultant and two research assistants from the fields of computer science and anthropology/humanities to develop new creative tools and new datasets with research and cultural heritage value. Our project engages three technical challenges - developing a GAN system that can convert works of literature into 3D models of trees, developing a GAN system that can improvise 3D models of non-existent human hand tools, and developing a GAN system for collaborative musical performance. Each of these three technical elements will be combined into a single multimedia performance and presentation as well as a series of peer-reviewed journal publications. The reflective ethnographic part of the project makes use of the research team’s privileged access to and involvement in the development and implementation of the machine-learning system to offer an analysis of GAN and machine learning from a cultural perspective.
As an educator, I draw on a wide range of academic and professional experiences to help students become independent problem solvers and critical thinkers. I have taught studio workshops in architectural drawing and analogue visual media, lab-based courses in 3D modelling and animation, lecture and tutorial-based courses visual studies and computer game studies, and specialised field trip courses for new media art students in remote locations. I use my experience as a practising artist to foster an environment of experimentation and iterative problem solving, and pay close attention to international developments in pedagogy. My most valued benchmark is to create an environment where students feel comfortable to share their mistakes as well as their solutions.