Jason Nelson

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Jason Nelson

Jason Nelson is a digital and hypermedia poet and artist. He is a lecturer on Cyberstudies, digital writing and creative practice at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. He is best known for his artistic flash games/essays such as Game, Game, Game And Again Game and I made this. You play this. We are Enemies and through his work on the Australia Council of the Arts Literature Board[1] and the Board of the Electronic Literature Organization based at MIT.

Nelson's style of Web art mergers various genres and technologies, focusing on collages of poetry, image, sound, movement and interaction.[2] He currently lives in Brisbane, Australia. And is a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Bergen from 2016-17.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

Nelson grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has a BA from the University of Oklahoma and an MFA in New Media Writing from Bowling Green State University. He began work as a poet, and now has over 30 digital works of art. As of 2009, he teaches Cyberstudies, digital art, and digital creative writing at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

Nelson is known as a cyberpoet, using multiple media that merge and transform into each other. His style of "mixture chaos" and art nouveau has led to mixed reviews. Some critics[3] cannot see past the "characteristic messiness" or "strangeness" in his approach, with the Wall Street Journal calling his work "as alienating as modern art can get".[4] And others have suggested his work could be described as "Basquiat meets Mario Brothers"[5] and represents the future of poetry and art games [6]


Sound, animations, video, and other forms of internet based media are presented to enhance other poetry or art. The media can either be mandatory or available at the conscious decision of the viewer (who can choose to follow links to have media embedded in a piece).[according to whom?]

Static art and essays[edit]

Nelson's art portal, secrettechnology.com, won a Webby Award for the Weird category in 2009. Some of his works include Between Treacherous Objects, The Poetry Cube, The Bomar Gene, Pandemic Rooms.

  • Vholoce: Weather Visualiser uses RSS weather feeds to generate a series of aesthetic visualizations.[7]
  • Uncontrollable Semantics uses a basic mouse-follower, uncontrollable semantics pulls together fifty different sound, image and interactive environments. Each environment offers four directions to four terms, four semantics, four named creatures.[8]
  • The Poetry Cube is an interactive poetry cube, where users can enter a sixteen line poem and that poem is then transformed into a multi-dimensional cube. Writers such as Charles Bernstein and Adrienne Rich have poems included in the cube's saved database.

Interactive art and games[edit]

Many of Nelson's works require effort and a bit of skill on the part of the viewer. Some are framed explicitly as games, others as elaborate mechanisms for progressing through a series of elements of a work.

  • This is How You Will Die (2006) is one of Nelson's most famous pieces strictly as a work of art - a slot machine for predicting death, using code for an online pokie game and 15- five line death fictions/poetics. Players can win death videos and free spins.[nb 1]
  • Game, Game, Game And Again Game (2007)[9] and its sequel I made this. You play this. We are Enemies (2009), are Nelson's most famous works. They are both flash platform games that look like they are played inside someone's stream of consciousness. They have been played over 8 million times combined. Game, Game Game won an Italian Art Award[citation needed] and received mention on many gaming blogs as either genius or insanity in game form.[nb 2] The sequel was reviewed as an example of independent art game creation.[10][11]

Other works include:

  • The Bomar Gene - An exploration of genes through fictional biographies.[12]
  • Hermeticon: Pop Spell Maker - This is a 1980s kids commercials combined with 16th century hermetic texts. After cutting out the hooks, the most compelling spells of our toy and cereal fueled world, the videos were compressed and coupled with mysticism and our new alchemy. The work also uses a keyboard driven interface. This artwork is part of a larger series of works called Entanglegrids.[13]
  • Evidence of Everything Exploding (2009) - A platformer-based poetry game.[14]
  • Scrape Scraperteeth (2011) - A game intended to serve as an introduction to art games.[15]
  • ''Nothing you have done deserves such praise (2013) - An example of electronic literature.[16]


Nelson has received awards for his digital poetics (in 2005) and for his piece This is How You Will Die (in 2006).[17]

  • This is How You Will Die won the First Panliterary Award for Web Art from the Drunken Boat Literary Journal.
  • His art portal secrettechnology.com won the 2009 Webby for the Weird Category.
  • "Countries of a Uncomfortable Ocean" (which bundles two of his art games) won the Biennale Internationale des poètes en Val de Marne for Media Poetry in 2009.
  • "The Bomar Gene" won the 4th International Prize "Ciutat de Vinaròs" on Digital Literature.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See also "Jason Nelson Speaks from the Machine", with a photo of Nelson giving lecture with "Between Treacherous Objects" featured behind him. The photo was taken at Penn State University.
  2. ^ See for instance Joystiq, Jay Is Games, and Wired's takes on it.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ www.australiacouncil.gov.au
  2. ^ museumtwo.blogspot.com
  3. ^ www.huffingtonpost.com
  4. ^ www.newscientist.com
  5. ^ www.theguardian.com
  6. ^ www.digicult.it
  7. ^ secrettechnology.com
  8. ^ Culture Vulture site of the week, The Guardian. July 2006.
  9. ^ www.freewaregenius.com
  10. ^ Boing Boing
  11. ^ Wonderland Blog
  12. ^ Heliozoa.com
  13. ^ Entanglegrids at secrettechnology.com
  14. ^ Alexander, Leigh et al. Sawbuck Gamer: October 26, 2009 - Evidence of Everything Exploding. A.V. Club - Gameological Society. 26 October 2009.
  15. ^ Caoili, Eric. This Week In Video Game Criticism: From Strategy Games To Chrono Trigger's Systems . GameSetWatch. 26 July 2011.
  16. ^ Szilak, Illya. "It's All Fun Until Someone Loses: E-lit Plays Games". Huffington Post. 
  17. ^ www.drunkenboat.com