Awavena - Portal into a New Way of Knowing

Creators: Collaboration between director Lynette Walworth and the Amazonian Yawanawa people

January 2018

VR Technology: Lidar Scanner + 360 video (Nokia)

Viewing System: Tethered VR

Contemporary and ancestral spiritual technologies of vision unite in this 30 minutes non-fiction VR film, a bridge between worlds connected by Hushahu. The film follows Hushahu’s path as she becomes the first woman shaman of the Yawanawa community in the Amazon jungle, reconfiguring their social gender relations. This project is also about a new way of thinking about technologies, particularly VR. From the Yanawana perspective, virtual reality works in an analog way to their spiritual medicine, opening a portal to another way of knowing.

That is why Tashka, the chief of the community, contacted Lynette Walworth, a director that had already worked with an Australian tribe in her Emmy-winning project, Collisions. The Yanawanas wanted to transmit their message to the world, their connection to nature and the complex layers of life hidden underneath our eyes. In order to create this collective dream that navigates between worlds, Lynette worked with 360 video for the recording of the daily life in the community and the rituals. In order to deeply immerse the viewer into the vision experience of the spiritual medicine, an Australian fluorescent biologist along with the DP walked in the forest during night with a fluorescent light and a night camera to capture all the commonly unseen living creatures in it, like little caterpillars. They also used a Lidar scanner to capture 300,000 point of data per second to recreate the forest in an ethereal way.

As a result of this delicate and committed sociotechnical process, the VR experience feels truly intimate. It is a really simple non interactive experience but it immerse the viewer in a profound journey.

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