An artist and sometimes writer, Samaras's creative/research interests include built environments, speculative landscapes and cultural narratives; political geographies and psychological dislocation in the everyday; science fiction and the imaginary; the liminal space between documentary and fiction; studies in sexuality; cinema studies, and popular culture; feminism and transregionalism; history of second wave feminism; culture and technology.
Recent awards include California Community Foundation/Getty Mid-Career Artist Fellowship (2006, for a film and photo project in Lesbos, Greece); National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Grant (2004-05, for VALIS, a series of photo and video projects shot at the South Pole and the Ross Ice Shelf); Anonymous Was a Woman (2003); COLA (2003); and Adaline Kent Award, San Francisco Art Institute (2002). Solo exhibitions of VALIS include Galería Metropolitana of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City (2008) and de Soto Gallery, Los Angeles (2007).
She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and has given numerous presentations at venues such as the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA London; Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta, Canada; Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, Australia; and the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand. Catalogues of her artwork include VALIS(UNAM, Mexico City, 2008), Angelic States - Event Sequence (SFAI, 2002), A Partial Correction to the Representations of Earth Culture Sent to Extraterrestrials on the 1977 U.S. Voyager Space Probes (New Langton Arts, San Francisco, 1995, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts). Recent writing publications include "The South Pole and the U.S. Imaginary," New Zealand Journal of Photography (2007). Past publications include the book Terminals: Technology and the Cultural Production of Death (edited with Victoria Vesna, 1999), "Is it Tomorrow or Just the End of Time? UFO Culture and Cultural Anxiety," Processed Lives (Jennifer Terry et al., ed., 1997), and a series of articles published late 1980s and early 1990s critiquing liberal and conservative positions on the censorship of photography and the arts from an anti-censorship feminist perspective (New Art Examiner, Utne Reader, Artforum, NY Law School Law Review).
She was a core faculty member of the Women's Studies Program, and faculty in the PhD in Culture and Theory Program, School of Humanities at UC Irvine.