Entertainment

Immersive Art Installation Makes You Cross the US-Mexico Border

Alfredo Salazar-Caro’s experimental documentary puts players in the dire shoes of an immigrant crossing the border.

by Nathaniel Ainley
Aug 18 2015, 7:30pm

Install images courtesy of the artist 

Border Crossing Beta 2.0 is an in-progress experimental documentary by Chicago-and-Dallas-based visual artist Alfredo Salazar-Caro. The piece places the viewer in the position of an immigrant who has just crossed over the US-Mexico border via the Arizona desert, and was built to simulate the experience of roaming through the seemingly inescapable region once over the fence.

Players trek through the arid climate in search of civilization, but cannot find any. The project is based off a series of ongoing interviews between the artist and recent migrant workers. During their journeys, players "may or may not" come across short vignettes from the experiences of others who have passed through the same desert in real life. Engaging video gaming and augmented reality with documentary filmmaking, the result provides a completely innovative and immersive view into the immigrant experience.

Salazar-Caro tells The Creators Project, “The process of creating it came from a lot of research+ personal experience [sic]. I've crossed the border with my family about once or twice a year since I was 14, and I have always been fascinated/terrified by this structure and system..”

To create Border Crossing Beta 2.0, Salazar-Caro spent a lot of time looking at satellite images of the the US-Mexico border. Using 3D modeling programs like Blender and Maya, he replicated the environment and integrated it into his simulator using a video game engine.

The pictures below were taken from a Salazar-Caro’s two-person exhibition with fellow artist Alexandria Eregbu, entitled, EXODUS, which was held at the Arts Incubator Gallery at the beginning of this year. At the show, the two artists explored their own personal interpretations of flight, immigration, and belonging. “Through sculpture and architectural objects they tackle at the physical and intangible limitations of controlled space, employing materials such as sand, steel, shuttle hurdles, and fencing,” according to the description in show's Vimeo recap.

S
creencap of the game, via.

Salazar-Caro shares with The Creators Project a closing statement about his intentions and goals for the project: “As a Mexican immigrant living in the United States, I can't help but be fascinated and disturbed by the relationship between the neighboring countries. With this piece, I wanted to communicate a feeling or an experience and maybe tell a sort of universal story.”

Click here to find out more about Alfredo Salazar-Caro's EXODUS and here to watch documentation of Border Crossing Beta 2.0

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