My research explores how the cultural, social and ideological dimensions of a film are inextricably intertwined with the aesthetic strategies of the film. I argue that, if we want to understand how cinema takes up cultural or thematic issues, we must consider how film produces sensory-affective experience for the spectator. My writing on film attempts to draw the reader into both an understanding of these dynamics and an experience of them, through the writing.
I have written extensively on the centrality of affect and embodiment in cinema spectatorship. I have published a book and numerous journal articles on the role of affect and the senses in narrative, mise-en-scene, genre and film sound, through case studies of Korean detective film, classical Japanese cinema, modern Greek cinema, independent American cinema, and animation.
More recently my work has considered how spectatorship is transforming, as the moving image is increasingly exhibited in the gallery space and integrated into hybrid multimedia installations. I have published my research on the hybrid moving image work of artist William Kentridge and the multimedia documentary installations of Indian artist Amar Kanwar.
As an interdisciplinary scholar, I have a particular interest in the strategies for scriptwriting and directing that enable a filmmaker to cross cultural barriers. In recent years, I have conducted studies of ‘animate thought’ in ethnographic film and photography, and the dynamics of intercultural collaboration, focusing on the film, Ten Canoes. I have an ongoing research project and have published on the film work of acclaimed Australian Indigenous director, Ivan Sen, exploring how his approach to cinema enables him to draw audiences into a close engagement with Indigenous experience. I have also published on the film work of Indigenous directors, Tracy Moffatt and Darlene Johnson.
My research into documentary cinema has focused on exploring the imbrication of the cultural and affective-aesthetic dimensions of documentary film, through published studies of avant-garde French documentary, Indonesian political docudrama and Indian documentary, and postcolonial historiography in Australian television documentary.