One River, Many Stories

Project Background:

Web site:

This project is called “One River, Many Stories.” In April 2016, media from northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin will put a special focus on one topic: the St. Louis River. Newspapers, television and radio stations, bloggers, photographers, citizen journalists, and college and high school students will all be asked to produce their own independent content about the river. The print, video, audio and multimedia stories will then be collected and preserved under one umbrella: “One River, Many Stories.”

The UMD Journalism program received a $47,000 grant from Knight Foundation Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

What we are doing:

In the Journalism program, we will be devoting much of our classroom activity toward this project. We are also using the project as a research opportunity, studying community engagement and media collaboration.

What you can do:

This is an opportunity for interdisciplinary work from myriad disciplines. Faculty in other programs are envisioning how they might use this project in their own classes and research. We’d like to invite more members of the UMD community to participate in this project with us.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Moore, assistant professor of journalism, Department of Writing Studies  at University of Minnesota Duluth



Reuben Irving (UWorcester, Digital Film Production and Animation students) and Joellyn Rock ( UMDuluth, Digital Art and Filmmaking students) collaborated on MASH’TASH. The project borrows from the aesthetics of remix (mash-ups), Dada and Surrealist games, setting a playful tone for the collaboration. In Spring 2015, students engaged in creative assignments to be shared and remixed in various ways. These activities included digital art, sound and video clips that share characters/conflicts, facts/fictions, past/present/future lore about our locations. As locative media art, the project used google maps to connect short videos to places in our local landscapes in Duluth and Worcester. Students were encouraged to build on each others’ stories, scenerios, characters, and sense of place. All good games have rules: Each story must somehow include a character with a moustache. Hence the title of the project: Mash’tash !


1. MASH’TASH projects must include a moustache

2. MASH’TASH projects may include any form of digital media (video, still, animation)

3. MASH’TASH projects must link to specific locations on map of Duluth or Worcester

4. MASH’TASH video may be no longer than 30 seconds


• SELECT LOCATIONS: Place must mean something to you / USE Prompts / Brainstorm Options

• CAPTURE VIDEO : Visit location to shoot and capture video / Integrate Story and Character elements

• Edit short video to 30 sec

• Upload Edit to youtube or vimeo, ATTACH LINK to MASHTASH google map

Our Map (in progress)

Tattoo University

Can a Body be a Map?

What about a Student Body?

Project Website:

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Digital Art Students built TATTOO U by contributing: Tattoo designs, Character Profiles (traits drawn from a hat), Portraits of fictional students w/tattoos, Fictional emails.

Our Creative Process:

Step 1: Each student designs an original Tattoo. Take some time to look at tattoo art on the web, (see links + inspiration) and to sketch and brainstorm a unique image that embodies the spirit of body art and symbol. This tattoo belongs to a fictional student at a fictional university. You know nothing more.

Step 2:
Each student builds a character profile. Randomly select (draw from a hat) a few details about the fictional student who wears this tattoo: body placement of tattoo, campus hangout, gender, major, year in school, age, secret talent, aspirations, bad habit, love life…

Step 3:
Each student creates a portrait of this fictional person with their tattoo… a picture of the person clothed, on campus, showing someone their tattoo. You may use photography or appropriated images as a guide, but please create an original image. Add color to your image with the project color palette. (see above)

Step 4:
Each student composes a fictional email… from their character to another character in the fictional university. This email can reveal personal or academic situations relevant to your character profile. (Have fun with this, but respect the evolving fiction)

Collaborative Creativity in Bergen Norway

In August 2013, UMD Art & Design faculty and students traveled to Bergen Norway to participate in Collaborative Creativity in New Media. The one week course brought together diverse students and faculty from 5 Universities to work in teams developing multi-modal digital narrative projects. The experimental work was informed by innovations in electronic literature, multimedia art, surrealist games, and computer generated narratives. As students explored the landscape and culture of Bergen, their projects evolved to integrate mapping, photography, illustration, video, graphic design and digital storytelling in their designs. Interdisciplinary creativity and experimental tools were central to the learning. UMD participants were Art & Design faculty Joellyn Rock and Rob Wittig, and their students Dane Pedersen and Jordyn Swenson. The  joint course, Collaborative Creativity in New Media was funded by a grant from SIU: The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education, a public Norwegian agency promoting international cooperation in education and research. The group included students from University of Bergen Digital Culture and students from American partner institutions: the University of West Virginia, Temple University and the University of Minnesota at Duluth.

Upon arrival in Bergen, each student received their identity through the project online character generator . (Each time the page reloads, a new character is generated with a different name, age, home, profession, strange incident, and an item in his or her bag.) A mysterious message from Archibald Baker III called them each to Bergen to investigate a “strange event”. Soon students were divided into small groups, and it was up to each team to shape their own narrative, incorporating evidence, images, events, local landscape and anecdotal details.  Every team included both Americans and Norwegians, and engaged students with different disciplinary backgrounds and skill-sets. Student projects from the 2013 course have been located on the fictional Archibald Baker III’s database archive computer.

In Dane Pedersen’s team, the fictional characters were: Jackson Sullivan, who awoke on an island in his hometown to find strange ruins tattooed onto his arm. He heads to Bergen to decipher them. There he meets David Butler, an older gentlemen possessing the diary of his explorer grandfather. Inside is information regarding Norse ruins. Aurora Berg, a British spy doing her best to warn the world of potential harm. Liam Omar, a scuba diver who notices the strange rise in water levels in Bergen. What can it mean?  The video story Five Days includes the voices of each of these characters.

Jordyn Swenson’s team narrative included the high-stakes drama of assassination and conspiracy on the waterfront. They worked to interweave their narratives on a joint website:  Fear the Water

Character, Illustrations, and Web Story by Jordyn Swenson


Most of the resulting team products included aspects of locative media and maps in their final forms.  UMD students  Dane Pedersen and Jordyn Swenson also worked together to develop an iBook that shared embedded videos, photography, websites and maps.

Interconnected narrative map by one team of Collaborative Creativity students:

And the website for the Gærningene group:

We were given tasks and clues to how to develop our artwork through the mystical character Archibald, and through this we developed the four superheroes that are presented on this page. Our group was called “Gærningene”, which is Norwegian for “the Crazies”. It is a suiting name, considering how we mixed media types we’d never even heard of before we started. Our task was to save Bergen…


Another Team created a pair of parallel blogs: A Tale of Two Suns


Showcase /Archibald Baker III + Bergen installation by Dane Pedersen and Jordyn Swenson


Turkish American Alliance / Dijital Pasaj

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Dijital Pasaj  / About the Project

Dijital Pasaj is Turkish for Digital Passageway

Dijital Pasaj was created  by Joellyn Rock’s Digital Studio students at the University of Minnesota Duluth. As part of UMD’s Turkish American Alliance, students devised an online experience that would allow students on the other side of the globe to visit a unique version of Duluth Minnesota. Each student chose a site in Duluth to document and transform into a personal narrative. Visual icons lead to specific locations in our city. Visitors to the site can move through this digital environment, accessing short quicktime movies that offeran off-beat vision of life in Duluth.  Navigate the map of Duluth by rolling over the white dots on the map. Clicking will launch specific visual stories. View quicktime movies by clicking on the play arrow once the movie is partially downloaded. We hope you enjoy roaming around in our town! Project concept by Joellyn Rock, Assistant Professor of Art + Design at UMD, Dijital Pasaj Identity and navigation design by Gen Johnsen, and Web design by Ivana Savic. View Dijital Pasaj here:

Meanwhile, at Baskent University  in Ankara Turkey, students working with Murat Devrim Atilgan responded to the Dijital Pasaj project with their own digital art projects. Students used a similar technique of rotoscoping and digital imaging to craft comic books and digital movies, telling personal stories of contemporary life in Turkey.