AboutPosted: January 18, 2012
I am currently Assistant Professor of Film Studies and Media and Communication at Miami University in Ohio. 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 Camerawork as Political Affect: Reenactment in Simulation Documentary (“confirming review” with Indiana U. Press to be complete in Jan. 2022), 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. As a longtime documentary filmmaker who has used analog film and a variety of digital cameras in passion projects and works for hire, 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 in the book analyze the tack and yaw between media-making and reenactment performance over time in documentary materials about hobbyist reenacting groups like the one featured in In Country (Attie and O’Hara, 2014) about Vietnam War reenactors, camerawork and constraints on dissent in documenting military training simulations during the Iraq War, camerawork at the historical reenactment of a lynching organized annually by Civil Rights activists in Georgia since 2005, and camerawork in the Sundance Jury Award Winner and PBS film on lynching contemporary and historical Always in Season (Olive, 2019), for which I conducted several days of filming as part of my research in Georgia. My work touches on key concerns in the fields of Documentary Studies, Performance Studies, Media Phenomenology, Visual Communication, American Studies, and considerations of race across these areas. Other writing focuses on project-based, digital media pedagogy in the liberal arts, which I briefly introduce in the section on “Student Work,” and a genealogy of viewfinderless camerawork leading up to “action cams,” co-authored with Lisa Cartwright, among several other published articles in JumpCut, Senses of Cinema, and Routledge edited volumes. 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., Cinema Guild) 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. From 2014-2017, I was 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. While there, 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. At Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I have won internal grants to lead on a collaborative, site specific, augmented reality documentary project about the history of race and student protest on campus in the 1960s and 1970s, titled “The Curious Ways in Which Activism Shapes Peoples’ Lives,” intended for use in teaching on campus as well as education for the general public. I also head the Teaching Committee for a newly formed, nationwide movement of academic filmmakers titled Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media (EDIT Media). You can see excerpts from several of my projects on the “Media Production” page of this site.