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Joellyn Rock’s research focus is the development of complex visual storytelling projects, with a special interest in emerging media and digital narrative. Research includes traditional academic methods (reading, writing, and excavating through historical facts and fictions), technological (investigation of new tools, software training, emerging techniques using digital media), theoretical (following emerging scholarship in digital media), and creative (inventing story elements, experimenting with moving and still imagery, drawing, painting, writing, shooting, editing). These narrative projects take diverse forms.

Night of the Torches

Research into historical topics and current events in Greece, The Mysteries Project  plays with the boundaries between fact and fiction, artifice and authenticity. The transmedia mockumentary employs the shifting vernacular of digital formats: the dvd bonus disk, the youtube video, the confessional blog. The story is told through fragments: location photos, production stills, design sketches, storyboards, and video clips. Graffiti Angel in Sophronia is a collaborative work showcased at the Walker Art Center as part of Northern Spark 2014. The participatory work provided opportunity for interaction, encouraging visitors to move their bodies, to make playful silhouettes, to add to the story text via social media on mobile devices. Inspired by historical mermaid legends and their myriad literary variants, Fishnetstockings also encourages both physical and writerly participation, offering ways to play via twitter and kinect. Both of these recent interactive installation projects move storytelling work onto a larger canvas, employing new tools and techniques and collaborative partnerships.


Joellyn Rock worked with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues to establish the new Motion and Media Across Disciplines Lab. The MMAD Lab is a unique space for UMD faculty research in digital video, motion capture, and collaborative experiments using new media platforms. The evolution of digital tools is rapidly impacting the work faculty do as creative researchers and educators. Advances in digital imaging and cameras have been particularly dramatic, allowing for huge leaps in the quality of video production. The MMAD Lab is equipped with current video production, chromakey, and motion capture technology. The interdisciplinary space has already opened up new ways of working, evident in recent collaborative projects such as Sophronia and Fishnetstockings. The lab for research in video production and motion capture provides a place to experiment with motion/media projects, bringing together faculty from Art&Design, Theatre, Biomechanics, Computer Science, and Engineering. The experimental videos seen in Sophronia, West of the Moon, The Bamboo Swordand Opera Fatale projects were some of the first works created in the Motion and Media Across Disciplines Lab. Fishnetstockings, with interactive code created by computer scientist Pete Willemsen, is the first interdisciplinary collaboration to come out of the MMADlab research group.


Research in emerging media is reinvigorated through workshops in various locations, prompting visits to the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkley, California, the Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts / University of Worcester UK, and the new Center for Digital Narrative in Bergen Norway. Travel to conferences and workshops hosted by International Digital Media Arts Association (iDMMa), South by Southwest EDU (SxSW.EDU), the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO), the Installation & Interactive Art Conference  (INST-INT) helps build a network across disciplines with other scholars interested in the evolution of digital media artforms.