Roderick Coover
Feb 22 2017 Posted: 12:26 GMT

Catastrophic Echoes: Combinatory Cinema by Roderick Coover and Scott Rettberg

Huston Guest Session, March 9th, 2.30pm, Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway

 Filmmaker Roderick Coover and writer Scott Rettberg present selections from three of their CRchange studio projects  which integrate computational methods and digital arts practice to produce films that generate new versions on each run.

 The Last Volcano (2010) tells a story of a catastrophic volcanic eruption and its aftermath is narrated by a Norwegian woman. As the narrative cycles a second time, the woman’s husband attempts to interrupt, questioning the disturbing history and trying to place it in historical time. The story references events of the distant past, but its setting and telling raise anxieties related to contemporary cycles of memory and forgetting. 

 Three Rails Live (2012), a web-based combinatory film developed by Rettberg, Coover, and Nick Montfort, produces new juxtapositions of image and text on each run, delivering narrative fragments from a contemporary story of personal and environmental dissolution sandwiched between “perverbs” that deliver a “moral” to each story.

Toxi•City (2014) is a feature-length combinatory climate change film that layers segments of a speculative narrative of life in the toxic environment of the Delaware River Estuary after a series of hurricanes have devastated the landscape with the actual stories of area residents who perished during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Roderick Coover (b. 1967) is the creator or co-creator of works of digital, interactive and emergent cinema and digital arts such as Toxi•CityHearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project, and The Theory of Time. He is also the maker of documentary films and interactive, documentary research projects such as The Unknown Territories Project,  From Verite to Virtual: Conversations On The Frontiers Of Anthropology And Documentary FilmThe Language of Wine: An Anthropology of Work Wine And The Senses and  Cultures In Webs: Working In Hypermedia With The Documentary Image. His works are designed for the screen, interactive media, database cinema, photographic installation, online multimedia publication, gaming platforms and other Web media, and he has been a pioneering creator of some of the earliest forms of interactive cinema and digital, ethnographic arts. His works — both of fact and fiction — blend arts and research, and blur conventional, disciplinary boundaries. His is also the author or co-author of numerous works about creative practice and theory in print, including the book, Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology In The Humanities And Arts (University of Chicago Press). He is Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University, Philadelphia, where he is the Founding Director of the PhD-MFA Program in Documentary Arts and Visual Research, the MA Program in mediaXarts:Cinema for New Technologies and Environments and the Graduate Certificate Program in Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Practice. He holds degrees from the University of Chicago (PhD 1999), Brown University (MA 1994) and Cornell University (1989). His work is internationally exhibited and reviewed, and he has received Fulbright, Mellon, Whiting and LEF awards, among others. Learn more about his work at

 Scott Rettberg (b. 1970) is Professor of Digital Culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Rettberg is the author or coauthor of novel-length works of electronic literature, combinatory poetry, and films including The UnknownKind of BlueImplementationFrequencyThe Catastrophe TrilogyThree Rails LiveToxi•CityHearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project and others. His creative work has been exhibited both online and at art venues, including the Inova Gallery, Rom 8, the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum, Palazzo dell Arti Napoli, Beall Center, the Slought Foundation, The Krannert Art Museum, and elsewhere.  Rettberg was the project leader of ELMCIP (Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice), a HERA-funded collaborative research project, from 2010-2013. Rettberg is leader of the Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group and director of the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base. Rettberg was the conference chair of the 2015 Electronic Literature Organization international conference and festival in Bergen. Rettberg is the cofounder and served as the first executive director of the nonprofit Electronic Literature Organization, where he directed major projects funded by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. He holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati (PhD 2002), Illinois State University (MA 1995), and Coe College (1992). Learn more about his work at


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