CARNE y ARENA by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Moving VR installation at LACMA exploring the human condition.

Run: July 2, 2017-July 1, 2018
Experienced: February 11, 2018
Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Address: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036
Price: $50
Tickets: info here
Audience Size: 1 (every 15 minutes)
Runtime: ~45 minutes (7 minute VR experience)
More Information: LACMA’s CARNE y ARENA Page


I came into Alejandro González Iñárritu’s CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) not knowing much other than it was a VR installation at a museum. The overarching theme is about immigrants crossing the US Border from Mexico. For me the pieces of art preceding and following the actual VR experience had more impact on me but that doesn’t detract from the experience itself in any way. The VR serves its purpose perfectly and puts you in an emotional mindset not quite possible in any other medium. Because of it I was ready to receive the background stories of the individuals who helped shape the piece in the final (non VR) room.

For me this was the perfect use of VR just short of actually going through a traditional immersive theater experience. The technology used here is similar to that of The VOID’s Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire with the exception of being tethered to a cable hanging from the middle of the room. As such there are two docents following you around as you experience the VR portion to make sure you don’t trip over the cable or run into a wall. I was a little self conscious knowing there were people beside me throughout and at times I could hear them talking to each other pulling me out of the moment.

As with some great immersive theater pieces I would love to do this again because in retrospect I felt I “did it wrong” by not moving very much throughout the experience. I was too entranced in the scene unfolding to want to move too much.

Los Angeles is a perfect home for this exhibit let’s hope it stays here past July 2018 because more people need to experience this.