Three Rails Live

THREE RAILS LIVE (running online at:
is a combinatory narrative film designed for installation. The collaborative data-base driven video project concerns memory, mortality, alienation, regret, and environmental devastation. The filmmaker and authors wrote recursively, exchanging texts in response to images and images in response to texts, evolving themes such as “Landscape and Fate”, “Death by Snake”, “Toxic”, “Flight”, and “Flood.” Spoken word narrative and image are then assembled and juxtaposed by the system into segmented stories such as “Empty Glass,” “Between Stations” and “Passing Cars”. These reconfiguring fragments are interrupted by “perverbs”, in which proverb fragments combine oddly familiar but corrupted phrases such as, “where there’s smoke, there’s mirrors” or “nothing ventured makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Running continuously, the system never generates the same narrative in the same order twice.

In 2016 Three Rails Live so that the narrative elements do not repeat for a set number of cycles, providing viewers a variable but sustained experience that unfolds without reptition for a 40 minute period. The javascript code was also extensively commented so that the code itself provides an explanation of the project and shows how it works.

Scott Rettberg
University of Bergen, CRchange Productions

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 Unknown, Kind of Blue, Implementation, Frequency, The Catastrophe Trilogy, Three Rails Live, Toxi*City, Hearts 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.

Roderick Coover

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. 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

Nick Montfort

Nick Montfort develops computational art and poetry, often collaboratively. His poetry books are #! and Riddle & Bind, and he co-wrote 2×6 and 2002: A Palindrome Story. His more than fifty digital projects include the collaborations The Deletionist, Sea and Spar Between, and the Renderings project. His collaborative and individual books from the MIT Press are: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, and most recently Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities. He lives in New York and Boston, offers naming services as Nomnym, and is a professor at MIT.