Creating digital poetry out of Queensland’s past

Dr Jason Nelson, whose work in digital poetry has proved a worldwide sensation attracting millions of followers

Queensland College of Art lecturer Dr Jason Nelson is the Queensland State Archives first Artist-in-Residence.

Dr Nelson spent several months exploring the collection, using old papers, photographs, videos and objects to create new digital and interactive artworks.

The resulting exhibition, The Wonders of Lost Trajectories, is on display at the Queensland State Archives (QSA) this month.

Dr Nelson said he enjoyed the process of getting hands on with Queensland’s history, creating a series of art installations that allow people to engage with the collection.

“It was an amazing place to explore – there is a vast network of climate-controlled rooms with documents dating back to the 19th century,” he said.

“I loved the colours of the old documents, the weird footnotes, stains, handwritten notes.

“I was fascinated by government documents, the layering of ideas and strange sketches.

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“It was an insight into how decisions are made – that gave me the idea of lost trajectories, the notion of a time in the past where decisions could have gone in any number of directions.

“I used interactive digital art and poetry to explore these alternative trajectories.”

Dr Nelson used old archival equipment to create seven installations, combining elements of old and new.

“People are no longer surprised by screen-based work – they carry one in their back pocket,” he said.

“I liked bringing together elements of old and new to create something of unexpected beauty.

“I love the element of surprise and making it like a little puzzle.

“I stumbled across a storeroom with old microfiche readers, card catalogues, all of the things that have now been replaced by computer terminals.

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“I was fascinated with the old documents and old interfaces, so I developed these into an interactive artwork.”

Dr Nelson’s artworks were projected onto the William Jolly Bridge at South Bank as part of the residency and several installations will be kept permanently in the archives and repurposed to showcase different aspects of the collection.

The Wonders of Lost Trajectories will be on display at the Queensland State Archives until 21 February.

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