Ancient Rituals, Modern Lenses with Greg Downing

When presented with the opportunity to venture deep into the Amazon using the latest technology to capture the Yawanawá people’s way of life, Greg Downing didn’t hesitate. His program steps beyond the storytelling technology, exploring the transformative journey of Hushahu, the Yawanawá’s first female shaman. Experience what happens when groundbreaking technology meets ancient traditions, crafting a vivid narrative that bridges the seen with the unseen, the scientific with the spiritual.

“Awavena” took a step in a long history of storytelling innovation, it won an Emmy for its immersive portrayal of the Yawanawá’s sacred visions and rituals. Through a collaborative effort, Greg, alongside director Lynette Walworth and the Yawanawá people, weaved the technologies of capture together. Thus vividly brought to life the sacred visions inspired by the Yawanawá’s traditional rituals and the intensive training of their shamans.


Greg will also discuss the journey itself, detailing the logistical and technical challenges encountered, the efforts to sustain technology in the Amazon’s demanding conditions, and the camaraderie that fueled the team’s coordinated effort. Beyond the technological feats, he will share learnings from the rich cultural immersion, offering a glimpse into the impact of exposure to the Yawanawá way of life and how it shaped the storytelling process.

Greg’s narrative is a testament to the adventurous spirit that compels us to explore, understand, and celebrate the stories of some of our planet’s most remote and remarkable cultures. Join us to witness a tale of adventure, technology, and cultural immersion deep in the heart of the Amazon.

Greg Downing is renowned for blending exploration, technology, and art, focusing on indigenous cultures, scientific research, and artistic projects.  His significant contributions include 3D scanning Easter Island’s statues for preservation, capturing Icelandic landscapes for Björk’s MoMA installation, and aerial 3D mapping of glaciers in the Himalayas. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, Downing reveals the hidden stories of remote cultures and landscapes, underscoring his dedication to highlighting global narratives. His work seeks to deepen our understanding of the world, emphasizing the importance of preserving and celebrating its rich and diverse heritage.



This program was organized by Phoebe Piper #1244.