Collaborative Map to Create a Layered Landscape

   Collaborative mapping is a concept foreign to many, which Northern State University is trying to change.
   Media artists Teri Rueb and Alan Price would describe it as, “stories about the land, from the perspective of different cultures and the land itself, woven into a large-scale projected digital mapping that incorporates animated, still imagery, sound, and video, uploaded by participants using a mobile app and/or through an internet browser.”
   This collaborative mapping project is exactly what Northern is looking to implement.
Dr. Greg Blair, NSU Associate Professor of Art, explained, “They want to create a map of this region but in a way that there are multiple layers as a representation of the local landscape.”

Grimpant. Photo courtesy

   This interactive map calls for collaboration with NSU students, faculty, and community members in creating an overall voice that focuses on perceptions of place, land, and resources in the Aberdeen area and the Dakotas.
   A few trial media uploads have already been recorded in order to test the process, such as images of Northern’s campus and a soundbite of a typewriter.
   The idea of bringing sound artist Teri Rueb to campus started as a discussion between students and Dr. Blair upon looking at Rueb’s work. Grimpant, completed in 2013 by Rueb and Price, was initially commissioned by La Panacée Centre de Culture Contemporaine (Montpellier, France) in January 2012 and was developed over the course of a year.
   According to Rueb’s website, Grimpany “seeks to reveal the rhythms of Montpellier as an urban ecology of human and botanical entanglements.” It is a collaborative map similar to what will be on display at NSU in 2017.
   Accompanying Rueb will be Price, animator and digital designer, along with photographer Thomas Bachand, who provided the photographs for the base layer map. A year of planning and four visits by Rueb later, the base photographs and layout have been documented.
   “We’ve never done a project that at the collaborative and productive phase has engaged a body of people beyond the campus community,” said Dr. Blair. For information on how to become involved, contact Dr. Blair at

Lexie Doerr

Grimpant. Featured photo courtesy of