The Catastophe Trilogy

Katastrofetrilogien is a trilogy centered on themes of how stories of historic disasters impact contemporary conversations and relationships. Collaboratively and organically produced by video artist Roderick Coover and writer Scott Rettberg, these three films call upon historical narratives of of a deadly volcanic eruption, a great floods, and the plague to tell stories of present day longing, anxiety, and environmental change.

The three films that make up the Catastrophe Trilogy are The Last Volcano / Det siste utbruddet, Cats and Rats/Rotter og katter and Norwegian Tsunami/ Norsk flodbølge. The three films were designed to play both as installation loops and single play screenings.  Each work explores historical occurrences in light of contemporary events. Myths and histories of tragic deaths caused by toxic volcanic dust, the plague and floods from a prehistoric tsunami are revisited in contexts of current volcanic eruptions impacting Europe, the potential spread of the N1H1 virus, and deep drilling in the North Sea.  The works engage digital poetics and eco-poetic themes, using language and image to explore myth, story and  challenges of translation (across language, cultures, and technicities). The three films were created one per year in differing locations, and then edited to form the trilogy. They incorporate imagery filmed in Norway, Scotland, England and USA. Production by CRChange LLC.       


The Last Volcano / Det siste utbruddet

A story of a catastrophic volcanic eruption and its aftermath is twice told by a woman before the slowly turning image of contemporary urban landscape. As the narrative cycles through a recursion, the woman’s husband attempts to interrupt, questioning the disturbing history and trying to place it in historical time. Though the story references events of the distant past, its setting and telling raise anxieties related to cycles of memory and forgetting.

The Last Volcano was filmed at docks in Bergen Norway using panoramic animation. The imagery of a peaceful and prosperous contemporary urban landscape is juxtaposed with an 18th century account of widespread death and crop-loss caused by an eruption of an Icelandic volcano. The work was filmed during the period of the 2011 eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that impacted European air and transport.

Direction: Roderick Coover
Writing: Scott Rettberg
Translations by: Daniel Apollon, Gro Jørstad Nilsen, and Jill Walker Rettberg
Voices: Gro Jørstad Nilsen and Jan Arild Breistein
Technical: 6:30 Minutes, HD 16:9, Color, Stereo.
Available in both single-play and installation loop formats.
The Last Volcano was first released in the USA and Norway with English and Norwegian subtitles.
It has also been translated and subtitled in French.


Cats and Rats / Rotter og katter
A blind date between an American epidemiologist and a Norwegian woman takes place on a transatlantic Skype call. While trying to impress his potential paramour with his important work in studying contemporary epidemics, the clumsy American steers the conversation terribly wrong, toward a discussion of the Plague and all the devastating historical memories it entails.

Cats and Rats /Rotter og katter was filmed on the Norwegian shoreline, on the banks of a US northeastern city, in a science laboratory, and along the shores of the UK, from which ships carrying plague-diseased rats were said to have come.

Direction: Roderick Coover
Writing: Scott Rettberg
Translation by: Jill Walker Rettberg
Voices: Jill Walker Rettberg and Rob Wittig
Technical: 9 Minutes, HD 16:9, Color, Stereo.


Norwegian Tsunami/ Norsk Flodbølge
A Scottish geologist and a Norwegian chef who works on an offshore oil platform discuss a certain strangeness in the waves, their changing spirits, and the last time a tsunami devastated the nearby shores.
Geological movement in the coastal shelf under the North Sea triggers a cataclysmic tsunami. The wave devastated communities eastern shores of the British Isles. The tsunami broke through the land link to cause the English channel. The narrative of the great wave that altered Europe is related to two contemporary contexts: the 2011 Tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, which introduced stories of great floods, and studies and examples of tremors caused by recent oil drilling. Might the current rush to drill in the deep seas of the northern shores of Norway and Scotland directly or indirectly lead to earthquakes, land-slides or great waves?

Direction: Roderick Coover
Writing: Scott Rettberg
Translation by: Scott Rettberg and Jill Walker Rettberg
Voices: Gillian Carson and Kristian A. Bjørkelo
Technical: 8:30 Minutes, HD 16:9, Color, Stereo.