AHRC Techne funded PhD – Kingston University, London (2019-2022)

Peripheral Visions: Reframing the margins in Film and Film Festival ecologies

The aim of this research project is to identify a new turn in contemporary moving image practices towards transcultural co-creation and multi-sensory aesthetics; and to analyse how these practises challenge models of political representation, filmic distribution and presentation; in order to propose new strategies for support, participation and circulation that extend beyond the frame of the filmic image and into the spaces of ‘peripheral’ relation.

The research draws on Walter B. Mignolo’s definition of the ‘peripheral’ as a position from which the problems of coloniality and capitalism can be made visible and alternative futures imagined. The central case studies engage with environments and communities that exist on the fringes of the neoliberal media landscape of visibility and influence, and are threatened with erasure by global forces of exploitation. These works prioritise multiple and non-linear perspectives, facilitating improvised dialogues with stakeholders and traditions to connect local environments, stories, and materials. They give voice to human and non-human agencies, reshaping their image as co-existent with different traditions, ecologies, pressures and interests.

Placing these practices in relation to recent developments in postcolonial theory, post-humanism and new materialism, I aim to develop a critical framework for de-centering the languages and structures of filmic engagement. I argue that the identified turn to collaborative responsibility and multi-sensory attention disorients the standard institutional focus on representation, judgement, and passive engagement.

By embracing Jean-Luc Nancy’s notion of ‘being-singular-plural’, I explore how a cinematic ecology can be approached via de-individualised and trans-local routes. This involves stimulating programmers, institutions and viewers to reflect on the ‘elsewhere-within-here’ (Trinh T Minh-ha) that implicates us in international trajectories of power. Working in the context of the Frames of Representation festival and its Work in Progress programme, new models of collaborative and cross-cultural programming within this ecology will be tested and developed.