VR Experience by Oscar-Winning Director Puts You in the Shoes of Fleeing Immigrants

Alejandro González Iñárritu carne y arena


Alejandro González Iñárritu, the Oscar-winning director of The Revenant, created a harrowing VR experience called Carne y Arena (“Flesh and Sand”).

An almost seven-minute experience, Carne y Arena is an installation that puts viewers in the shoes of immigrants captured by US border-patrol authorities.

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CityLab already had the chance to experience this VR creation and described it as an ” anti-spectacle,” saying that it “can’t be shared on Instagram, even though it is more immersive and more substantive, than anything else in its class.”

“Maybe the nighttime setting and other cinematic tricks disguise some of the limitations of the still-developing VR technology, as the director pleads. That’s hard to tell, though, when you’re walking barefoot through actual sand, in what feels like a true desert at twilight—a scene so convincing that I felt compelled to navigate around mesquite bushes that were not there. Shouting officers, barking dogs, helicopter rotors, and cries of anxiety all sound very convincing indeed.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu said that, when he first began the project, “this administration was not in power,” though it’s undeniable that its launch is incredibly in tune with current events.

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As hundreds of minors are separated from their parents after crossing the US border and kept in grim conditions, luckier people can experience their plight with the power of VR. Carne y Arena is being staged in Washington, D.C until October.

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