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* * * * * Premiere 23 November 2019* * * * *


Immersive cinematic installation and performance
(Plus the Altering Shores Located ScreenAlteringShoresVR Story Works)

Roderick Coover, Nick Montfort, Adam Vidiksis

Interweaving sound, language and image, The Altering Shores is an immersive cinematic experience set in the marshlands and industrial wastelands of our local Delaware River watershed and others worldwide. The experience presents a kaleidoscope of climate futures through fragmented language and multi-layered sounds and images. Participants are guided through this uncertain terrain by lead artist Roderick Coover, poet Nick Montfort, and composer Adam Vidiksi.

November 16-23 VR headsets on the UPenn campus allow for a walking exploration. Each headset presents variations of poetry, sound and image, developed using generative methods and set at differing locations.

November 23 is a feature concert-film-performance at the Annenberg Center For The Arts with vocalists and musicians in a a four-screen spectacle. The event is sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania and free.



Interactive video for CAVES and other immersive environments.
An interactive, immersive, and cinematic gaming environment draws users into the haunting memories of ordinary American soldiers who became torturers in the course of serving their country. This project about human rights foregrounds veterans testimonies of US military enhanced interrogation practices and human rights abuses during the Iraq War, often by young and ill-trained soldiers who never entered the military to become torturers and still find themselves struggling to reconcile the activities they were asked to do. By filmmaker Roderick Coover, writer Scott Rettberg, computer artist/researcher Daria Tsoupikova, and computer scientist Arthur Nishimoto. Based on original research by political scientist, John Tsukayama.

WINNER of the Electronic Literature Organization's Best Creative Work Award 2016.
Featured at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, ISEA 360 Degree Gallery (Hong Kong), Bergen International Film Festival- Expanded Cinema, DH2016 Krakow, SIGGRAPH, IEEE, HASTAC, Oslo Human Rights Film Festival and elsewhere.

View: PDF description/Press Page.
View Sample
Read Pat Badani's Review and Interview in N-Media.


Combinatory Film.
Toxi·City by Roderick Coover and Scott Rettberg is a recombinatory climate change narrative film focused on six characters whose lives have been transformed by sea-level change and flooding in the industrialized region of the Delaware River Estuary. Fictional testimonies are set against actual accounts of deaths that occurred during Hurricane Sandy. A combinatory film uses computer code to draw fragments from a database in changing configurations every time it is shown. As some stories seem to resolve, others unravel. Just as with the conditions of ocean tides and tidal shores, the stories cycle and change without clear beginning or end. Rather, individuals grasp for meaning from fleeting conditions of a world in flux. As the characters paths intersect, story threads come together. These offer moments of resolution, contact and visions of the future, before the narratives are broken apart and a fresh cycle begins. A CRChange Production.

WINNER of the 2016 SEA(s) Award. Exhibited internationally at venues in Barcelona, Bergen, Chicago, Milwaukee, Paris, Philadelphia, Hong Kong, Providence and other international venues including an installation at the 2017 Venice Biennale Hyper-Pavilion.

The Altering Shores is a long term transmedia project engaging questions of sea-level rise. It includes both solo and collaborative works based of spatial explorations of shorelines, often by walks and kayak journeys, that result in photographic, cinematic and VR experience. These initial explorations are expanded through projection, site-specific installations, mapsfilms and books. The projects are conducted on shorelines impacted by rising waters in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast, the UK and elsewhere. Project elements include a forthcoming book, GIS-based mobile media resource, and multimedia installations.

Interactive Landscape
A comparative exploration of shorelines of the Delaware Estuary in the eastern USA and the Kent County Coast including the Thames Estuary in the UK derived from walking and boating the differing post-industrial landscapes. Estuaries was installed as a 20' print in the exhibition Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene (Inova Museum, Milwaukee, 2015) and as an artist book in the exhibition, Sensing Change (Chemical Heritage Museum, Philaelphia, 2013-2014).

Interactive Map
This map blending spatial exploration with research into over 200 active petro-chemical industries and clean-up sites in areas of the Delaware Estuary that could be threatened by rising waters. It considers the consiqueneces upon urban and natural areas if flood waters reshape shorelines, disturb industrial sites, polluted soils or provoke other disasters in the petro-chemical landscape.


Combinatory Narrative Video and Video Installation
A combinatory narrative film by Roderick Coover, Scott Rettberg and Nick Montfort. Running continuously, the system never generates the same narrative in the same order twice, but nevertheless produces a coherent holistic story of a man's late search for meaning among the detritus of his life and environment. Exhibited at the Bibliotheque National de France, Bergen International Film Festival, and numerous other international venues. Published in New River Journal.


Video and Installation Video Loops
This cross-cultural trilogy calls upon histories of deadly volcanic ash, great floods, and the plague to tell stories of present day longing, anxiety, and environmental change. A CRChange Production.

In LAST VOLCANO, a woman offers a fragmented account of a deadly volcanic cloud to a friend. In RATS AND CATS:: KATTER OG ROTTER, an international telephone date between an American and a Norwegian goes veers toward histories of the black death and goes terribly wrong. In NORWEGIAN TSUNAMI, a Scot and a Norwegian share a cigarette break on an oil rig in the North Sea at a wrong moment.

Internationally exhibited. Published in Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures Vol. 12.

Interactive Landscape (Unknown Territories Series)
Join John Wesley Powell on the 1869 exploring expedition of the uncharted waters of the Colorado River.

Documentary Film (Unknown Territories Series). 50mins.
Ken Slieght, Katie Lee, Jim Stiles and others discuss transformations taking place in the American Southwest in relation to Edward Abbey's writings and legacy.

Unknown Territories is a transmedia series of projects (2004-2011) combines interactive environments and nonfiction video to explore spatial representation, narratives of exploration and land use. Voyage Into The Unknown retraces John Wesley Powell's exploration and representations of the Colorado River, which began in 1869. Then, following the works of author Edward Abbey, Canyonlands visits the contemporary Canyonlands of the Colorado River Basin to encounter a landscape transformed by development, park preservation and dams. Other elements of the project were developed in arid regions of Argentina and Chile. The project was made possible with support from the LEF Foundation, the University of California, California State University and Temple University.


A documentary DVD that explores ways of building bridges between practices of the social sciences (anthropology, communication), the humanities (philosophy, cultural studies, cinema studies), and the arts (documentary film, interactive media, performance). Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources.

INSIDE/OUTSIDE. 2007-2008.
Interactive Computer Installation at the Museum of the American Philosophical Society at Independence Hall layering hidden histories, experimental mapping, story, and exploration of a three-block area of Philadelphia around Independence Hall.

Documentary Film. DVD available on Amazon.
Blending ethnography and eco-poetics, this documentary follows terms of winemaking in Bourgogne to unfold ways they are used to express fundamental life issues and cultural conditions.This film was first screened with live orchestration in 2003 at the University of California San Diego and the University of Chicago.

Digital Video. DVD. 7 Minutes. Distributed by The Video Data Bank, Chicago.
Created by Roderick Coover with writer Deb Olin Unferth, this work explores the speaking clock and its proverbial voice. Its repetitive, calming tone distracts from the fact that it represents a marriage of the two most inescapable and oppressive authorities—-technology and time. Featured at the Klein Gallery, Deluge Contemporary Art Gallery, 17 Days Traveling Exhibition, Antimatter Film Festival, Flint Institute of Arts, and Digital Arts Conference Gallery, among others. Date of Publication 2009. Premiere 2007.

Animated Panorama. DVD. 23 minutes.
Created by Roderick Coover with writer Deb Olin Unferth and Dutch singer Jodi Gilbert, Something That Happened Only Once is panoramic work recorded in Coyocan Plaza, Mexico City. The work blends the actions of actors and non-actors in the natural setting on a busy Saturday afternoon. The work is created through layers of photography, songs, and found sounds. Deb Olin Unferth's lyrics are adapted to music by the Dutch singer Jodi Gilbert who is joined in the performance by Dutch saxophonist, Michael Moore. Featured at AMC SIGGRAPH, Krannert Museum and elsewhere. Premiere: 2007.


Videos for mobile media and YouTube.
Co-created with writer Nick Monfort and screened in numerous venues worldwide.


Collaborative digital video poem.
A collaborative digital poem created by Roderick Coover and Nick Montfort. Created through rigid constraints, the process resulted in a series of layered images an couplets in a loop for a video wall installation at Roger Williams College, RI. View.


An interactive CD-ROM. Distributed by Eastgate Systems. A pioneering approach to documentary arts and visual research, the CD presents original photographic and video documentary projects, including The Harvest (see below) and Concealed Narratives (see below). (The CD-Rom is available from Eastgate for pre-HTML5 browsers only)


An interactive multimedia study of a wine harvest at the vineyards of A&P de Villaine in Bourgogne and one of the first to offer a scrolling approach to the photo essay and storyboard. The work was originally installed in 1999 and a version is published in Cultures in Webs in 2003.

One of the earliest interactive documentaries, Concealed Narratives was filmed in Ghana 1992-1993, in the year following the formation of its Fourth Republic under then president-elect J.J. Rawlings. The work concerns ways political narratives are concealed within imagery and performance. It was first developed in Macromind Director and Storyspace. It was published in HTML form in Cultures In Webs.


This site features solo and collaborative works by the artist Roderick Coover. The works featured were created between 1996-present. These works include experimental and interactive documentary projects, narrative projects, and hybrid works using time-based media such as film and video. They also include interactive landscapes, photographic series, and publications.

Among the dominant themes as these: Spatial practice is explored across these works both in form and content -- works such as Hearts and Minds, Toxi•City, Catasthrophe Trilogy and Something That Happened Only Once use experimental forms of panorama and immersion to explore narrative constructions of space and story. Works such as Three Rails Live, Toxi•City, Currency and Theory of Time Here experiment in uses of temporal structures like combinatory filmmaking, Oulipian editing and montage, while others like Estuaries, The Unknown Territories Series, and Cultures In Webs use scrolling interactive environments to explore how places are imagined, encountered and used.

Creative approaches to the discourse of climate change and industrialization are explored in the combinatory narrative projects Toxi•City and Three Rails Live, in the research-based, interactive works Chemical Map and Estuaries, and in the animated architecture project, Ben Franklin at the Lighthouse. Broader questions of land use, landscape and senses of place are central to the Unknown Territories Projects, Inside/Outsie and the experimental ethnography, The Language of Wine. Those works and The Catastrophe Trilogy contribute to creative discourse in eco-poetics.

Memory, place and story are central theme in Estuaries, Hearts and Minds, Something That Happened Only Once, and The Harvest. Relationships between memory and history are explored in The Catastrophe Series, Voyage Into The Unknown, and Canyonlands. Time, technological authority and spatial practice is the subject of several works including The Theory Of Time Here and the book Switching Codes.

Three Rails Live, Toxi•City, Currency, Something That Happened Only Once, Theory of Time Here, and the Catastrophe Trilogy are art installations and videos exploring story, translation and the stucture of visual and verbal expression, while documentary works on these themes of language and expression include The Language of Wine and Cultures In Webs.

Documentary arts, ethnography and visual research techniques run throughout the projects -- both fiction and nonfiction, and they are central the innovative documentary works Hearts and Minds, Unknown Territories, Estuaries, Language of Wine, Cultures In Webs and The Harvest. Documentary imagery is blended creative fictions and other imagery in the narrative works. Issues of documentary representation and visual research are critically addressed in Verite To Vitual: Conversations on the Frontier of Documentary Film and Anthropology and in many of the writings.

Critical reflection upon approaches to experimental digital methods including combinatory filmmaking, installation, collaboration and interdisciplinarity that central to all these works are discussed at length through writings along with other reflections on film, art, and key-words of art-research practices.

Roderick Coover is co-director of the Chouette Collective. Individual Works not otherwise under commercial distribution are ©Chouette Collective LLC.





* * * * * Premiere 15 November 2019* * * * *


A feature immersive cinematic experience for domes, CAVEs and VR headsets

Roderick Coover and Krzysztof Wolek

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The Key To Time is an immersive, cinematic art experience designed for immersive cinematic experiences like 360 cinemas, CAVES, domes and VR Headsets. Tanek, aa young scientist who is trying to make a time-travel machine in the 1920s is propelled two hundred years forward into a bleak future environment. The operatic work bridges 1920s silent cinema and virtual reality. The surreal narrative criss-crosses time and addresses how historic choices echo in troubled landscapes of the past, present and future.

More at

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On The Emerging Shapes Of Literary, Cinematic And Database Arts
(Bloomsbury Press

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Over the past half century, computing has profoundly altered the ways stories are imagined and told. Immersive, narrative, and database technologies transform creative practices and hybrid spaces revealing and concealing the most fundamental acts of human invention: making stories. The Digital Imaginary illuminates these changes by bringing leading North American and European writers, artists and scholars, like Sharon Daniel, Stuart Moulthrop, Nick Montfort, Kate Pullinger and Geof Bowker, to engage in discussion about how new forms and structures change the creative process. More on the Bloomsbury website.

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Combinatory sonnet generator video and video installation
Alejandro Albornoz, Roderick Coover, Scott Rettberg

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Penelope is a combinatory sonnet generator film based on the Odyssey, addressing themes of longing, mass extinction, and migration. It is created by Roderick Coover (video), Alejandro Albornoz (sound), and Scott Rettberg (text and code). Recombinations of lines of the poem, video clips, and musical arrangements produce a different version of the project on each run. Using a similar combinatory structure to that of Raymond Queneau's Cent mille milliards de poèmes, the computer-code-driven combinatory film can produce millions of variations of a sonnet that weaves and then unweaves itself. Oboe solos are by Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra musician Marion Walker. The video were shot on location and the text developed during 2017 residencies at the Ionian Center for Arts and Culture. Actors include Kefalonian residents Helen Amourgi, Kostas Annikas Deftereos, and Sophia Kagadis.



Co-edited highlights (with Scott Rettberg) of our city-wide festival held in museums, galleries, libraries, publics spaces and educational institutions in Bergen Norway, Hyperrhiz, Summer 2015,

SWITCHING CODES: Thinking Through Digital Technology In The Humanities and Arts. Edited by Roderick Coover and Thomas Bartscherer (University of Chicago Press).


Switching Codes: Thinking Through New Technology In The Humanities And Arts. Edited by Thomas Bartscherer and Roderick Coover. University of Chicago Press, 2011.
ISBN: 9780226038308 / ISBN: 9780226038315

Half a century into the digital era, the profound impact of information technology on intellectual and cultural life is universally acknowledged but still poorly understood. The sheer complexity of the technology coupled with the rapid pace of change makes it increasingly difficult to establish common ground and to promote thoughtful discussion. Responding to this challenge, Switching Codes brings together leading American and European scholars, scientists, and artists—including Charles Bernstein, Ian Foster, Bruno Latour, Alan Liu, and Richard Powers—to consider how the precipitous growth of digital information and its associated technologies are transforming the ways we think and act.

Includes essays in journals such as American Anthropologist, Visual Studies, and Film Quarterly as well as books edited by Lucien Taylor, Lisa Barbash, Eric Margolis, Luc Pauwels, Sarah Pink, Karen Beckman, Liliane Weissberg, and Sharrona Pearl, among others.

Select essays and artist papers


Roderick Coover is the creator or co-creator of works of digital, interactive and emergent cinema, virtual reality and digital arts such as Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project, Toxi•City: A Climate Change Narrative 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 Film, The 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, CAVE environments and head-mounted displays, 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 work is internationally exhibited in art venues and public spaces such as the Venice Biennale, The Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and Documenta Madrid and he has received Fulbright, Mellon, Whiting, Spire and LEF awards, among others. Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University, Philadelphia, he holds degrees from the University of Chicago (PhD 1999), Brown University (MA 1994) and Cornell University (1989).


Collaboration is a central part of my work. I work with writers, computer scienists, researchers and fellow artists. My work is carried out under various solo and collaborative organizations, LLCs and publishing groups. Some of the most pominent are:

  • UNKNOWNTERRITORIES.ORG is a project space designed by Roderick Coover. The works are meeting points two of more ways of working -- of art, of cinema, of information technologies, of humanities, of sciences, of spatial practices, of storymaking.
  • Chouette Collective LLC is a cultural industries & activities collaboratory of Roderick Coover and Catherine Peyrot Des Gachons.
  • CRChange is the art production collaboratory LLC of Roderick Coover and Scott Rettberg.
  • The Key To Time is a collaboration with Roderick Coover and Krzysztof Wolek produced by Chouette Collective, Institute Adam Mickiewizc, and Centrum Technologii Audiowizualnych with additional support from TR Theater and Temple University.
  • Shores is a collaboration of Roderick Coover, Nick Montfort and Adam Vidiksis made with support from the University of Pennsylvania Program in Environmental Humanities, The University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.
  • Penelope, Toxi•City, Hearts and Minds, Circe, and Catastrophy Trilogy are produced by Roderick Coover and Scott Rettberg.
  • Currency is a collaboration with writer Nick Montfort.
  • Three Rails Live is a three-way collaboration between Rod, Scott and Nick.
  • Canyonlands was created in collaboration with literary scholar, poet and river guide, Lance Newman.
  • Something That Happened Only Once and The Theory of Time Here were created in collaboration with author Deb Olin Unferth. Something That... also included collaboration with sound artist Jodi Gilbert and others.
  • Switching Codes is an edited book collaboration with scholar, Thomas Bartscherer.


Roderick Coover is Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia. He was Director of the MFA Program in Film and Media Arts, 2014-2018, and he is the founding and active Director of the PhD-MFA Program in Documentary Arts and Visual Research (DAVR) and the Graduate Certificate Program in Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Practice (DAEP). He is active, founding co-director of the MA in MediaXarts: Cinema for new technologies and environments.

PhD-MFA Program in Documentary Arts and Visual Research (DAVR)
The duel degree PhD-MFA Program in Documentary Arts and Visual Research (DAVR) is designed for students who have completed an MFA in Film and Media Arts or a related field and wish to expand their work through a critically engaged project. Dissertation projects may be developed using emerging and multimedia tools and approaches.

Graduate Certificate Program in Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Practice (DAEP)
Temple University’s Graduate Certificate Program in Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Practice (DAEP) is a 13-credit interdisciplinary program that promotes a broad and critical use of diverse media tools in the study and representation of culture(s). For Temple University PhD and MFA students only.

MA Program in mediaXarts: Cinema for new technologies and environments
The one-year Master of Arts program in Film and Media Arts at Temple University gives students the opportunity to work with leading artists to learn methods of making works for museums, public spaces, interactive cinema, mobile media, kinetic sculpture, performance, projection and the Web. Students also engage in interdisciplinary practices -- making art through collaborations across cinematic fields, theater, fine arts and visual research.

©Chouette Collective LLC