Peter Morse is a transdisciplinary data scientist, computer visualisation expert, film-maker, artist and technologist, who works across and between the sciences and the arts. He likes landscape, adventure, wilderness, supercomputing, simulation, literature and pragmatism.
He wrote his first computer programs in Fortran and Pascal in 1978, in his third year Maths class at Hollywood Senior High School, that ran upon a mainframe DEC VAX cluster at the University of Western Australia. One memorable program was a generative text horoscope – that crashed abysmally. It was programmed on punch-cards and spewed-forth pages of teletype errors. A first experiment. An early lesson: if it can go wrong, it probably will. Mitigate and persist, have a vision, get there.
He has made unpopular movies since childhood animated super-8 epics in the late 1970’s in suburban Western Australia, to frontier fulldome epics in Antarctica in the current day. The times, technology and places have changed, but the drive hasn’t.
He has in-depth technical skills and production experience in diverse fields such as 3D data visualisation, volumetric rendering, stereoscopic immersive virtual and augmented reality systems and computer programming – as well as video, photographic and film production, audio design and music . He has a wide-ranging creative practice and has exhibited digital media works around Australia and internationally in the USA, Germany, Britain, France, Finland, Holland, mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. He is noted for working with equal facility in the sciences and the arts, taking a transdisciplinary approach to reconciling diverse disciplines.
Peter lectured for many years at the University of Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts in the field of Digital Media Production and subsequently at the University of Western Australia in Communication Studies. He had a long research relationship with the (former) Western Australian Supercomputer Program and the University of Melbourne HPC facilities.
Peter has researched and taught in many institutions in Australia as well as overseas in Finland, Germany and Hong Kong, with a track record of national and international competitive grants, conference presentations, publications and keynote speeches. In 2007 he was appointed as an Australian Research Council Expert Assessor of International Standing (INTREADER). He initially studied for a B.Sc. in Physics (incomplete), then changed track and completed a B.A. Fine Arts, a B.A. Communication Studies (with 1st Class Honours) and a Ph.D. in semiotics (awarded 1995.) He still wishes there was a B.Sc/B.A. degree hybrid somewhere that genuinely combined Science and Art: it would’ve been exciting and innovative, but our educational system draws these spurious distinctions: either you’re one or the other. It’s a false dichotomy that still distorts our comprehension of the world. Consilience is an attractive idea.
He was the Founding Vice Chair of the Melbourne Chapter (2000-2005) of ACM SIGGRAPH, Chair for the Electronic Theatre Program for Graphite 2003, 2004, 2005 and in 2007 Program Chair for Graphite 2007 – the 5th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Australasia and Southeast Asia.
Since 1999 he has worked on Antarctic-related materials, digitally restoring many of Frank Hurley’s stereoscopic glass-plate photographs taken during the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (held by the Mawson Collection), and produced stereoscopic presentations of the work. Principal amongst these is the 22 minute 3D movie “Home of the Blizzard,” on permanent show at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery since 2006 – it has been seen by over a million visitors (according to TMAG figures) – and has also been screened internationally. In 2005-6 he was the recipient of an Australian Antarctic Division Antarctic Arts Fellowship, which enabled him to spend nearly 3 months aboard the 10,000 ton Russian Icebreaker M.V. Vasiliy Golovnin shooting stereoscopic content at Australia’s three main Antarctic Bases, producing major works shown at the Perth International Arts Festival 2007, John Curtin Gallery and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
In 2006-7 he worked for the Australian Antarctic Division as a computer visualisation consultant for the Mawson’s Huts Foundation 2006-7 conservation expedition to Mawson’s Huts, Cape Denison, Antarctica, producing 360º immersive stereoscopic panoramic content for systems such as the AVIE (iCinema, UNSW) (2008), Full Dome Digital Planetarium (Horizon – The Planetarium)(2008), and an interactive realtime archaeological/conservation environment using the Unity game platform.
In 2008 he worked with the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, Arctic Ocean Diversity program (Census of Marine Life) and the Australian Antarctic Division on a variety of science education and data visualisation projects.
In 2009 he was the recipient of an Australia Council Synapse grant (via ANAT), working with WASP and the AAD on fulldome immersive data visualisations of oceanographic datasets. He gave a public lecture during a series of three hosted by the University of Tasmania : ‘Antarctica – the Cultural Challenge, – entitled “Envisioning the Sublime: New Representations of the Antarctic in the Information Age”
In summer 2009-10 he shot a material for a fulldome feature in Antarctica, using self-designed ultra-high-definition motion-controlled stereoscopic HDR fulldome time-lapse and panoramic systems. Production and post is ongoing. It’s taking so long because it is self-funded and he is not yet a Breatharian and has to take on other work in order to afford it. Freedom to pursue original ideas comes at a price: technology is only now catching up to fulldome/VR standards – the tools are currently developing.
“On behalf of The Peter Rasmussen Trustees, Rosemary Blight said “Peter Morse’s work demonstrates an incredibly high level of technical innovation and practice, including leading work in 3D data visualisation. Peter’s works across both sciences and arts opens up ways for compelling narratives to play on all types of screens and in a huge variety of ways. Peter is an exciting artist to be awarded the Peter Rasmussen Fellowship.”
He was an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at iVEC@UWA (the University of Western Australia supercomputer hub of iVEC) from 2010-2015; an Honorary Associate with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Sciences (IMAS) from 2010-2012.
In 2013 he commenced his second PhD – researching in Computational Geophysics, with a focus on developing and implementing new computational strategies for Big Data visualisation and human-computer interaction. His supervisors are Dr Anya Reading (CODES- ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, UTas) and Prof. Chris Lueg (ICT, Utas) in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology.
In 2015 he worked with Professor Sarah Kenderdine as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the iGLAM DomeLab (part of the National Institute of Experimental Arts, COFA, UNSW), setting up Australia’s first research-based travelling 4k Fulldome system.
As always, he has far too many projects on the go and is interested in cloning, cryogenic suspension or alternatives to help deal with or augment the workload. He also wonders why he talks about himself in the third person, but this seems to be the necessary (auto)biographical tone. Perhaps it’s all wrong – it’s hard to list all the stuff you do or are interested in without sounding like an insufferable narcissist. Time and activity will tell, so : onto the next idea.
I am strongly tempted to cut this down to the simple maxim: ‘I made a few things, it just took a bit of effort to get there’ – and let the things speak for themselves.