As a nonfiction media maker and Critical Communication Studies PhD committed to social justice teaching and research, I theorize as well as facilitate collaborative, digital storytelling activities on food and sustainability, gender and media, active transit, gentrification and displacement, and structural racism. I hold a BA in film/video production and cinema studies from the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard, a master’s degree in US history from UCSD, and a PhD in Communication at UCSD for my dissertation “Indexical Embodiments: Sensory Ethnography and/as Historical Reenactment.”
My current book project, provisionally titled Performative Camerawork: Documentary Theory for Digital Culture, centers on changes in camerawork across the analog to digital transition in American documentary, performance art, and reenactment communities. I focus on a genealogy of reenactment practices since the 1960s—contemporaneous with the rise of direct cinema and the mobile camera—to intervene in a debate in Film Studies about the unresolved fate of media indexicality across the transition from analog to digital media. I argue that smaller, less expensive, more ubiquitous production tools and online distribution networks increasingly led digital recording technologies to function as extensions of networked bodies rather than as professional tools for documenting and preserving events. A history of documentary representation centered on embodiment rather than technologies of photographic inscription demands a different narrative, as performance and interaction move to the fore. Chapters analyze the tack and yaw between media-making and reenactment performance over time in military training simulations, post-2000 sensory ethnographic films about masculinity in decline, viewfinderless camerawork leading up to “action cams,” and the historical reenactment of a lynching organized annually by Civil Rights activists in Georgia since 2006. My work touches on key concerns in the fields of Documentary Studies, Performance Studies, Media Phenomenology, Visual Communication, American Studies, and Disability Studies. Other writing focuses on project-based, digital media pedagogy in the liberal arts, which I briefly introduce in the section on “Student Work.” I have also produced two feature-length documentary films, and am the Co-Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, and Co-Grant Writer on Spirits of Rebellion (2016, 101 min.) a feature documentary directed by Zeinabu irene Davis about a the legacy of a collective of radical black independent filmmakers known as the L.A. Rebellion. The film has played in multiple international film festivals, and won the 2016 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, recognized in a ceremony held in Port Harcourt, Nigeria that was broadcast to over 100 million homes across 17 countries in Africa. Last, I Co-Directed/Produced a project with choreographer Victoria Marks titled Unhooked (24 min.), a hybrid dance-documentary about hookup culture and sexual violence in college Greek life. We are currently in planning stages to incorporate the film in consent training for Greek Life at UCLA to facilitate dialogue about hookup culture. We intend to use the film to catalyze national conversations on the complexities of sexual experience, gender identities, and social pressures in college. You can see excerpts from these two projects and several others on the “Media Production” page of this site. Currently, I am the ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media at UCLA, responsible for developing and teaching documentary production for social change courses for undergraduates of diverse liberal arts majors.