What is it about?

Carne y Arena (2017) is an immersive mixed reality installation by Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. This installation aims at contributing to social justice by encouraging understanding and compassion with forced migrants. We have analyzed whether Carne y Arena achieves this effect, and if so, how and to what extent.

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Why is it important?

Carne y Arena has received an overwhelmingly positive response since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2017, but has not been analyzed before. Two significant findings: a) a comparative analysis of the medium of television and mixed reality has shown that Carne y Arena brings important prerequisites of pure communication a big step closer to becoming a reality, and can bridge the gap between spectator and migrant; and b) this installation is able to strengthen or change the basic dimensions of human experience: feeling (compassion with migrants), knowing (understanding the political causes and possible solutions), and acting (during and after the experience).


Experiencing Carne y Arena in Washington DC was a breathtaking experience. Writing this article enabled me to animate a dialogue between several communities of scholarship, such as media studies and philosophy. I learned a lot from the collaboration with several initiatives for social justice, such as the Emerson Collective, the Phillips Collection, and the Atlas Performing Arts Center, which all have a long history of dealing with the theme of migration.

Joost Raessens
Universiteit Utrecht

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Virtually Present, Physically Invisible: Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Mixed Reality Installation Carne y Arena, Television & New Media, July 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1527476419857696.
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