From 2019-2021, I co-edited The Screening Room, an experimental ethnographic film series hosted on the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Visual and New Media Review.

Scenes from an Imaginary Movie, Kathmandu 2014

Here are some of the visual projects I’ve been working on:

The Screening Room
Society for Cultural Anthropology, Visual and New Media Review, 2019-present

The Screening Room is an open-access film series, hosted by the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Visual and New Media Review. In this new incarnation of the series, Andres Romero and I have curated a set of experimental films that fall between contemporary art and anthropology. Guided by an interest in medium and form, we showcase a set of films that play with the boundaries of fiction and documentary, that experiment with creating visual languages for theoretical concepts, and that create stories from origin points outside of the usual centers of knowledge and artistic production.

The Face
A visual essay on ethics and intersubjectivity, presented at the 2019 meeting for the American Anthropological Association in Vancouver, Canada.

Between 1964-1966 Andy Warhol made a series of short film portraits that he called Screen Tests. Each film depicted a subject, shot from the neck up, who was instructed to sit for around 3 minutes without moving. The result was a form of intimate moving portraiture of the various artists and celebrities who moved through The Factory. Inspired by Warhol’s method, this film presents a series of “screen tests” as a visual essay on Emmanuel Levinas’ concept of ethics as the mysterious encounter with what he calls “the Face.” The Face presents four screen tests of women who I came to know well while conducting long-term, ethnographic fieldwork on the relationality of affliction in a remote farming settlement in the Nepal Himalayas. The screen tests are shown at reduced-speed, in order to magnify the shifting affects and emotions as they arise and dissolve in the midst of a mediated intersubjective encounter between the ethnographer (myself, behind the camera) and her celebrities. In this way, by using the form of the “screen test” it becomes possible to stage an experimental ethnographic inquiry into the Levinasian concept of ethics as located in the encounter of “seeing the Face” of the Other. As such, this film occupies the liminal zone between cinema, philosophy, ethnography, and performance art. 

Cinematic Experiments and Ethical Transformations
Society for Cultural Anthropology, Visual and New Media Review, 2019

If nonfiction cinema can be a site for experimentation and ethical transformation, then we must ask who and what is ultimately transformed, and according to which concepts of truth, ethics, and the human?

Society for Cultural Anthropology, Correspondences, 2018

This virtual forum invites five anthropologists to ask: What form of understanding do images afford? How might images enable the anthropologist to access other worlds and forms of thought? What is an anthropology of or through the image? And what might engaging images as method or object contribute to contemporary anthropology?

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