Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu | Deep immersion

Virtual reality installation Flesh and sandProvided by the PHI Center in Arsenal, it is an extraordinary experience that allows one to feel, at least in part, the traumatic experience of an immigrant trying to enter the United States illegally. This overwhelming work by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (BabylonAnd the Love for dogsHe got a special Oscar. A discussion between two scenes from Iniarreto’s next feature film, which he is currently filming in Mexico City.

Mark CassifyMark Cassify

Mark Cassify: A lot of people said there is a “before” and “after” Flesh and sand In virtual reality. What is the impact of this work on you?

Alejandro González Inarritu: For me, it was a great privilege, as a Mexican and as an immigrant, to meet immigrants that I did not have the opportunity and to work with in order to understand who they are. We set up a creative workshop, to extract the true psychological and emotional experience that they had to represent it faithfully, through them, with their words, and even with the clothes they were wearing. It was like a therapy session about a traumatic experience.

It was a very beautiful human experience for me. An exercise in deep understanding of others, which you can impart using the most advanced technology available. It is the encounter of technology and humanity. This is what I can remember most.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

MC: You’re talking about technology. I have seen Flesh and sand At the Cannes Film Festival for nearly four years. When I came across you, you told me your fear is that technology will age badly. I checked the installation in Montreal last week and it’s still pretty tough.

Adam: I’m glad to hear that, because I haven’t seen her in four years! I wish I was there with you [à Montréal]But the epidemic decided otherwise. I am especially happy for all of these people who can tell their story. It is clear that technology will evolve and there will be a time when it will become obsolete. But what I believe deeply is that a topic MeatHis intention, his emotions will never run out.

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MC: It’s like watching Dreyer or Bresson movies again. Cinema technology has evolved, but it will forever be classics. Virtual reality is used to treat things like dizziness or schizophrenia. Do you think it could also deal with our lack of empathy or our indifference? Walking in a migrant’s shoes should reflect …

Adam I: Visitor comments, in the books at the end of the install, influenced me a lot. when Flesh and sand He touches people, he touches them deeply. It is a work that seems to be deeply ingrained in people’s consciousness. The fact that you are all immersed in this experience, with sand under your feet, and the breeze on your skin, makes it real. We are not lying. The voices of these people are correct. What they experienced is also true. In one way, Flesh and sand It is a mixture of documentary, journalistic, stage performance, and installation. All of these media come together to create a deeper experience than a simple observer. When all the senses are summoned, the body and the spirit are affected. I don’t know if this could handle the lack of empathy, but this experience extends to the roots of our consciousness in a way that cinema cannot.

MC: A colleague told me about the emotions she felt in order to live this experience as a simple bystander, while others truly lived it, fearing for their lives. This left him facing an ethical dilemma. What do you think?

First Adam: This is the first time I’ve been informed of this kind of thinking, to be frank. You shouldn’t read Tolstoy’s book or watch a documentary about the Holocaust, then! If it was necessary to live things to appreciate an inspired work, then one would not see anything else. We will have the moral right not to see or read anything. We are called, as I said, to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who are often misrepresented. These immigrants are often presented as human bacteria that infect Western societies. Otherwise, they are portrayed as holy, poor, and pure victims. Whereas these people are normal and complicated human beings with needs like you and me. This is why the final part of the install introduces the heroes in the video. It is a documentary. There is no imagination here.

Photo by Emmanuel Lubzky, courtesy of PHI

View of the virtual reality facility Flesh and sand, Presented by the PHI Center in Arsenal

MC: Do you think, create Flesh and sand, That the installation can have a life expectancy as long as your movies?

1 Adam: Honestly, no. I worked on it for five years, completed it in a year and a half. It is an expensive project and difficult to profit because of the technology. I am happy that with this new version, three people can try it simultaneously, more people can access it.

I hope the facility remains relevant in a few years, because immigration issues are getting worse. I think the racists should see it! It may be useful to them I may be a dreamer, but this is what I hope for.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

MC: Some readers have asked me if they should avoid the experience, if they are anxious or afraid. Not sure what to tell them. In your opinion?

1 Adam: I don’t think this is a problem for people with claustrophobia. From the moment you immerse yourself in yourself, you get the impression that you are in the desert. It’s too big! Obviously, the more sensitive people are the more susceptible to the experience. When we were setting it up in Los Angeles and running auditions, there were people who were paralyzed and cried out. I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing. Perhaps it is necessary to feel things more intensely.

MC: Are you going to try this type of experiment again? Without a frame, as in the cinema? Have you found it difficult to return to traditional cinema?

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AGI: (hesitates) hmm. No. I think it’s a different kind of art. That’s all in the cinema. I am a filmmaker. My brain works in a 2D frame, in a rectangle that I fully control. it is easier ! I’d like to do a similar experience again. I had a very ambitious project, but I’ll wait until the technology becomes more advanced to tackle it. soon. Unfortunately, virtual reality is mostly making progress in ridiculous video games where you shoot people. I have ideas for extending the human experience. This is what I care about. To create spaces and atmospheres that contextualize experiences and make us more aware. It seems to me more helpful than just telling stories. Set the appropriate context for changing perceptions. I think it’s a very nice idea. Hopefully after the next movie, I can do another virtual reality installation.

MS: What can you tell me specifically about this upcoming movie that you are shooting in Mexico?

Adam the First: Nothing, alas! There is nothing to say at this time. I’d rather finish and then I’ll be happy to tell you what I’ve done. Because to be honest, sometimes I don’t even know what to do! (Laugh)

Flesh and sand It has been introduced at the Montreal Arsenal since March 17th. PHI announces additional until July 11 inclusive. Tickets will go on sale soon


Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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