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New VR Art Exhibit Highlights Migration Journey

A groundbreaking virtual reality art installation at Omaha’s KANEKO provides spectators with a deeper look at the immigration problem on the US-Mexico border. Following multiple sold-out trips abroad, KANEKO is now one of the only locations in the globe where visitors may see the installation.

Amanda Kephart, the community engagement manager at the centre, described KANEKO as a creative setting that can dangle work from its ceilings and showcase massive presentations, that include the virtual reality spectacle ‘CARNE y ARENA,’ which is presently on display.

According to Kephart, there is some anticipation that the new experience will be viewed as a creative offering by observers. She acknowledged the existence of groupthink signifying that virtual reality experiences are like walking into a wall and being restricted space-wise. Kephart said that the new experience being offered by her team are quite more liberating than usual VR experiences. She elaborated that the exhibition has quite a realistic feel to it, and involves multiple senses of those taking part in it. They can see, touch and hear the environment and get a unique viewpoint of the artist’s creativity.

The name ‘CARNE y ARENA’ is in Spanish, with the English translation meaning ‘flesh and sand’. It has been created by celebrated and award-winning film director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who has major credits under his belt including famous movies like The Revenant and Birdman. The new VR experience aims to showcase the lives of migrants hailing from Central America, who leave behind their properties and family members in search of a fresh new start on U.S. soil.

At the outset of the show, a few quick comments from Iárritu, presented in English and Spanish, warn spectators that what they will come across in the virtual reality experience, mirroring a depressing reality experienced by numerous immigrants. Upon passing through a cold waiting area, the observers have to endure a barefoot walk across desert rocks prior to donning the VR equipment.

The footage begins with people with injuries and severe dehydration finding refuge in the middle of a desert night, as they see a patrolling helicopter passing over their heads.

Border patrol officers are seen appearing all of a sudden and flashing their military vehicle spotlights at the observers and the refugee group. These officers then exhibit their firearms and proceed to interrogate the refugees, asking a series of questions.; They also look for any signs that can quickly identify the leader of the refugee party.

Participants meet the folks who created a reproduction work mimicking their actual journey, along with the abuse they were subjected to whilst attempting to cross the border. There were several such instances of people going through scenarios of suffering, including of them falling prey to threatening gang members in the region.

According to Kephart, these services are aimed to aid visitors to manage their residual feelings in a participatory manner.

The exhibition is on display at KANEKO through early September.

Additional information on the show may be found on the company’s website.

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