TOXI•CITY. Combinatory Film.
This combinatory narrative generates a new feature-length film each time it is shown. Interwoven lives unfold near industrial landscapes that have been transformed by sea-level rise. Filmed in ultrawide panoramic form for installation, HD and 4K projection, TOXICITY has been screened internationally and featured in musem exhibitions in the US and Denmark. By Roderick Coover and Scott Rettberg. A CRChange Production.

• View: PDF Description/Press Page.
• View: Video Sample.
• Read: David Jhave Johnston's conversation with Roderick Coover and Scott Rettberg in SoundEffects Journal, DK.

A visual research project exploring shorelines of The Delaware River Estuary in the mid-Atlantic USA and the Thames River Estuary (and English Channel) in the UK. The project crosses fields of the arts, humanities and sciences both to examine contemporary conditions and to speculate on impacts of climate change on these industrial/post-industrial shores.

Interactive Landscape and Artist Book
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 indicating over 200 active petro-chemical industries and clean-up sites in the Delaware Estuary. Available in open source (Drupal) and through Google Maps.

View: Altered Shorelines Project Homepage.
View: PDF Description/Press Page.
View: Sample of Estuary.
Visit/View: The Chemical Map on Google Maps.
Read: Chris Mizes' Interview/Review.

Features large prints, backlit images and photo essays.



Interactive Cinemascape (Unknown Territories Series)
Follow the writings of Edward Abbey, whose books such as Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang transformed how people thought about the arid American West, and return to landscapes he once wrote about.

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.

• View: CANYONLANDS interactive cinemascape.
View: CANYONLANDS documentary film.
Read: reviews in ARID Journal and in Electronic Book Review.
Read: "A Dialog About The Desert: a discussion between Roderick Coover, Larry McCaffery Lance Newman and Hikmet Loe" in the Electronic Book Review.

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

View: Voyage Into The Unknown, as published in The Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 2.
Read: NT2  and  Elit-UVM  reviews.

Unknown Territories 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. The project was made possible with support from the LEF Foundation, the University of California, California State University and Temple University. Visual research and film production was followed by installations and screenings in numerous venues as well as a screening tour to communities in the arid American West.




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.

The DVD is avaialble via the DER website.
View sample of a publication related to the film.

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.

• View Project.
View a sample essay about the project's interactive form.

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.

View: Project Homepage.
Read: Anna Grimshaw's review of The Language of Wine and Cultures in Webs in American Anthropologist.

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)

Visit: project homepage:
Read: Lucien Taylor's forward to Cultures In Webs.
Read: Sarah Pink's review of Cultures In Webs.


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.

View: The Harvest.

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.

View: Concealed Narratives.
Read: a sample of the author's essay about Concealed Narratives(Visual Studies 2004).


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.

• Click here for essays, articles and other publications.


August 3-8.

Hearts and Minds at HASTAC May 2015 and ISEA, August 2015.

Emerging Documentary Practices Symposium And Exhibition, Temple U.
April 3.

Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene. INOVA Museum Milwaukee. March-April. Installation Toxi•city and Estuary.

Oslo International Human Rights/Human Wrongs Film Festival

Presentation. Flow and Fracture. Aarhus University, Belgium.
Dec 4-5, 2014. Screening of a pilot for TOXICITY: A recombinatory climate change narrative.

Installation/Performance. EVL CAVE2, University of Illinois, Chicago.
June 17 and July 7 2014. 3D Cave exhibition and video wall projects.

Installation. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. June 17-21.

Presentations of work at Sch. Of The Art Institute of Chicago (March) American Association of Geographers (April), the University of Chicago (May).

Installation and Artist-In-Residence. Brown University.
February 17-21, 2014. Video wall project and talks each day.

Fast-Forward Presentation, DesignPhiladelphia festival event.
October 11, 2013. 20 slides at 20 seconds each to answer one question: What's next for Philly?

Special Course and Artist Performance Night, Bergen, Norway.
August 5-15. University of Bergen course collaboratory with faculty and students from the universities of Bergen, Minnesota, West Virgina and Temple. Artist performance night, Friday, August 9.

Commissioned Installations at CHF Museum, Philadelphia.
June 27, 2013-June 2014. Museum of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia. PA. Installations of Estuary and Toxi•City.

Installations Rowan University Museum of Art
March 30-May 5, 2013. Installations of 3RL and Estuary Photographic Series for the exhibition: Cosmobilities. Glassboro, NJ.

Installations at MIT8 Exhibition, M.I.T.
May 3-5. 2013. M.I.T. Cambridge, MA. Installations of Unknown Territories and 3RL.

Artist and Plenary Talks at MIT8
May 4 at 2pm, Artist Talk. Unknown Territories and May 5 at 1pm, 2013. MIT. Cambridge, MA. Plenary Session. Media In Transition 8 Conference.

Presentation at HASTAC, Toronto
April 27, 2013. York University, Toronto. Presentation. Estuary. Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) Conference.


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.

Toxi•City, Hearts and Minds, 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.

William Penn At The Lighthouse is a collaboration with Nick Cassway with additional contributions from Michael Johnston and others.

Switching Codes is a collaboration with scholar, Thomas Bartscherer.


MFA at FMA Temple University MFA Program in Film and Media Arts (Director)

DAEP Certificate Program in Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Practice (Founding Director)

ELO Electronic Literature Organization (2015 Arts Director)

ISEA (Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts)

CAA College Arts Assocation

IVSA International Visual Sociology Association

CMS Cinema and Media Studies

UFVA University Film and Video Association

SVA Society for Visual Anthropology

AGA American Association of Geography



Interactive video for the CAVE and CAVE2

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. The work was developed at the Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL) at the University of Illinois Chicago through a three-university collaboration. The production team includes filmmaker Roderick Coover, writer Scott Rettberg, visualization artist/researcher Daria Tsoupikova, computer and scientist Arthur Nishimoto in collaboration with political scientists John Tsukayama and Jeffrey Murer.

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


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.

View Three Rails Live.
• View PDF description/Press Page (PDF).

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. Published in Hyperrhiz.

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. Published in Hyperrhiz.

In NORWEGIAN TSUNAMI, a Scot and a Norwegian share a cigarette break on an oil rig in the North Sea at a wrong moment.

View: PDF Description/Press Page.
Visit: The Catastrophe Trilogy webpage and view video samples.
Visit: featured works and review in Hyperrhiz.
Voir: Le Dernier Volcan en version française.


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.

Visit: Video Data Bank webpage.
Read: Art Papers Review.

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.

View: PDF Press Release/Description.
Read: Art Papers Review.

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

View: Currency.

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.



Roderick Coover (b. 1967) is the creator or co-creator of works of digital, interactive and emergent cinema and digital arts such as Toxi•City, Hearts 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 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, 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.

He teaches at Temple University, Philadelphia, where he is Director of the MFA Program in Film and Media Arts, Founding Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Documentary Arts and Ethnographic Practices and Founding Co-Director of the MA in mediaXarts:Cinema for New Technologies and Environments. 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.


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.

Here are some dominant themes: 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.



MFA at FMA. Making Cinema
Temple University Graduate Master of Fine Arts Program

The Master of Fine Arts program in Film and Media Arts at Temple University is the country’s foremost program in alternative film and video. The program offers arrays in Narrative and Documentary Cinematic Arts, Media Arts and Screenwriting. We train new generations of makers who seek to challenge the current practices of mainstream arts and media. We see the MFA program as a creative laboratory for producing works of social significance and artistic merit and for exploring the nature of contemporary knowledge in the field, including the emergence of new technologies and the connections between theory and practice. Read More.

Graduate Certificate 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 involves faculty and courses in the Center of the Arts, the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Media and Communication.  The DAEP program’s philosophy is to promote a broad and critical use of diverse media tools in the study and representation of culture(s). The program is open to students in M.F.A. and Ph.D. programs university-wide and it is ideally suited for students who plan to incorporate visual studies, ethnographic methods and documentary practices in their artistic and scholarly projects. For Temple University PhD and MFA students only. Read More.

MA 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 fields of visual research. Now accepting students.


FALL 2015. FMA 8244 Experimental Methods
Students explore theories and practices of creative expression using analog and digital approaches to motion-image production for cinema, arts and emerging forms. This introductory graduate level course welcomes students from diverse fields.  Through projects, workshops and collaborative participation in a blog and public exhibition, students integrate methods of film, digital arts, visual arts, and literary arts. Weekly creative and technical explorations are coupled with readings from diverse fields designed to provoke discourse on cinematic practices.

(On leave, Spring 2016)

FALL 2016. FMA 5461/8461 Documentary Arts and Visual Research, Workshop
This course brings together makers and researchers to foster original nonfiction projects. Graduate students from across the university in such as fields of film, video, photography, anthropology, history, mass media and communication, ethnic studies, women's studies, and philosophy join together in developing new ways of conceptualizing documentary arts.  Students examine methods, language, ethics, and processes of nonfiction visual research. All students contribute to written discussion boards and they produce creative and/or critical final projects. Students learn ways to work together across disciplines and collaborative projects are encouraged. Students are expected to complete highly developed papers and projects that are directly related to their anticipated thesis topics, methods, and goals. Graduate Students Only.


©Chouette Collective LLC