Traveller's Teacup

helping connect the world's stories

Soundscaping is the new Montage (in Virtual Reality storytelling)


Virtual Reality is all the rage in documentary at the moment and edgey producers are scrambling to work out how to tell stories in this new 360degree immersive medium. In a talk at IDFA Doclab last year, Thomas Wallner gave a clear overview of the technical and artistic challenges we face immersively and how we are rapidly developing a new language to tell our stories…

Thomas begins by giving us a 101 on cinematic language…

VR producers are blazing immersive trails here beyond Einsenstein. Check out the example. In a medium  where the audience is increasingly immersed and interactiving within a virtual landscape, what is the aesthetic language that needs to be developed?

In recent post on MIT’s Open DocLab, some strong clues are emerging how we might do this…

“While experiencing the piece in a virtual reality headset, 360 audio follows the position of the head, always matching the direction of the sound with the position of the sound source in relation to the viewer. The most urgent shortcoming of the technology is the lack of positional tracking. Currently all live-action virtual reality pieces are experienced statically; it is possible to rotate 360 degrees around a single point but if you move forward, you would not move into the film. Following positional tracking are the usual suspects of technology: higher frame rate, higher resolution and higher update rate.”
“Felix & Paul Studios’ contemplative pieces aim to erase the sense of visual manipulation — the main building block of cinema known as “the cut” — and leave the audience with long takes of life, similar to the actualités of the early Lumiere brothers short films. However, successful virtual reality works employ a new editing tool: manipulation of the viewer’s gaze through positional audio.”
[This one is for all those lovely soundies. You know who you are!!]

my first book chapter

Its feels weird to say but now my video work is in a book by Routledge! In April 2012, I was invited by Stephanie Buechler and Anne-Marie S. Hanson to talk at the America Geographer’s Association (AAG) about the 2009 climate change video work we did in Tajikistan. After presenting our post-colonial collaborative video methodologies, I was invited to submit a paper, and today the book  A Political Ecology of Women, Water and Global Environmental Change has been launched.  I will again be at this year’s AAG in Chicago to launch it.

Our chapter titled “Pamiri Women and the Melting Glaciers of Tajikistan: A Visual Knowledge Exchange for Improved Environmental Governance Citt Williams and Ivan Golovnev”  explores cross-cultural understandings of environmental change through the collaborative use of audio-visual methdologies. Ivan Golovnev (Russian Visual Ethnographer and creative collaborator) and I outline some of the challenges associated with the co-creation of the work on location in the remote Pamir mountains in Tajikistan. We also take the opportunity to articulate a series of collaborative ‘international development communications’ protocols. Similar to the processes I learnt at CAAMA years ago, here are some of the protocols now in print for the consideration of others.

“The work outlined a set of guiding principles for collaborative knowledge production and researcher accountability. These principles include:

  1. recognition of co-production ownership and full participation;
  2. co-creation of visual script and study parameters;
  3. non-exclusive licensing of specific cultural materials respecting custodial and intellectual property;
  4. first person community storytelling and language translation;
  5. analysis and report editing on location with various community screening approvals;
  6. local language versioning;
  7. final community consent event;
  8. provision of a back-up hard disk copy of all materials created;
  9. regular feedbacks about report dissemination and
  10. the support and involvement of local representatives in international climate discussions.

If you would like to read the chapter, please let me know.

Pamir Women and the Melting Glaciers of Tajikistan: A Visual Knoweldge Exchange for Improved Environmental Governance. Citt Williams, United nations University, Tokyo, Japan and Ivan Golovnev, Institute of History and Archeology, Yekaterinburg, Russia.


Understanding and adapting to climate change requires recognition of the diversity of knowledge sources. Western climate science-to-policy paradigms paralyze public agency through elitist mechanistic science, market-driven governance decisions, and consumer skewed media networks. Such environmental governance is oppressive for peoples with different cultural configurations. The rise of Indigenous media has been a powerful repurposing of media instruments towards self-determination, dominant discourse resistance, and survival. We applied collaborative visual methods towards environmental change and activated marginalized knowledge systems and indigenous women’s voices. Our visual research (available at argues a multiplicity of cultural narratives improves human agency and equitable environmental governance.

Storytelling and the Twilight Imagination

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“Imagination threatens people. Imagination is so close to madness.” Frédéric Neyrat

These days I’ve overdosed on theory and have become adrift in the never ending thought loops it creates. At the end of the day, you haven’t much creativity to show for your cognitive tumbling, maybe a few hundred words, maybe some sketches.

In an attempt to jump from the moving train of theory, Ive been exploring imagination conceptualisations. And what I found amongst the world’s such delicious ideas, I wanted to share with you. Right now, I’m totally inspired by the ‘twilight imagination’ theory of Frédéric Neyrat.


Merry Marrakesh

Merry Merry! Its been raining and windy here in Oxford, though I was in Marrakesh last week for a short trip connected to the Global Environmental Summer Academy.

The sounds and smells of the Marrakesh Bazaar were incredible. Here is the main square in the evening. Traditional storytellers come with gasoline lamps and crowds gather to hear classic tales.

Hoping you are well and happy. All the best for the new year, Citt x 🙂

Marrakesh Souk storytellers

‘unsettled’ thoughts on ‘Terra Nullius’, International Law and Cook’s Journal

Hello from Oxford University. Today, I’m in the middle of writing a thesis to conclude my masters studies on the social science of the internet, though yesterday I was jarred upright with news articles from back home. This ‘unsettled’ Abbott business prompted me to consider more vividly, ‘Terra Nullius’ and powerful colonial discourses being harnessed today in Australian politics.

Indigenous Australia