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‘Carne y Arena’ and Considerations for VR Cinema Design

"My intention was to experiment with VR technology to explore the human condition in an attempt to break the dictatorship of the frame."

Centered around a solo virtual reality experience that reunites frequent collaborators Alejandro G. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki alongside producer Mary Parent and ILMxLAB, Carne y Asada employs state-of-the-art immersive technology to create a multi-narrative light space with human characters.

Based on true accounts, the superficial lines between subject and bystander are blurred and bound together, allowing individuals to walk in a vast space and thoroughly live a fragment of the refugees’ personal journeys.

“During the past four years in which this project has been growing in my mind, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing many Mexican and Central American refugees. Their life stories haunted me, so I invited some of them to collaborate with me in the project,” Iñárritu says.

“My intention was to experiment with VR technology to explore the human condition in an attempt to break the dictatorship of the frame, within which things are just observed, and claim the space to allow the visitor to go through a direct experience walking in the immigrants’ feet, under their skin, and into their hearts.” 

Detailing the design of Carne y Arena, Benjamin B. explains, “Carne y Arena is most probably the biggest ‘walk-around’ VR piece to date, and takes place in an area as big as a tennis court. You are free to walk around, and stand or sit or kneel.

“With present technology, it’s just about impossible to use a camera system to shoot VR for a piece where the audience can move around freely. This is because you would have to shoot the action and the background from all the possible audience vantage points, to record all the possible audience paths through the virtual space for the duration of the VR movie.” To read more about the creation of the piece and guidelines for producing VR content, click here.

Read a two-part, comprehensive look at the installation and VR cinema design here and here.

Carne y Arena Part 1: VR by Alejandro G. Iñárritu with Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC

Carne y Arena Part 2: Notes on VR Cinema Design

The Birth of An Art Form: How Alejandro G. Iñárritu And Emmanuel Lubezki Learned to Master Virtual Reality

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Carne y Arena Proves That Great Virtual Reality Means Going Beyond the Headset

Virtual Reality Exhibit Lets Viewers Experience Mexican Migrants’ Harrowing Journey

In Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Virtual Reality Film at LACMA, the Immigrant’s Story Finds Its Power From an Unlikely Place