The VR installation Carne y Arena is to be honoured

Virtual reality has been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years with a big rise in the technology available and its application in filmmaking.

Samsung, GoPro and Acer have all released their own cameras in the last few months, while the Venice International Film Festival held a special section dedicated solely to virtual reality filmmaking earlier this year.

The release of virtual reality film installation Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible) also aided the international recognition of the art after having its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 2017.

Now the short piece, which is a collaboration between Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, is to receive a special Oscar®.

The special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is in ‘recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling.’

The multimedia piece follows real-life stories of refugees from Central America and Mexico attempting to enter the United States through the border.

Placing the viewer in the middle of the tense and dangerous landscape, the immersive experience opened to great reviews when it was first released.

Academy president John Bailey said: “Alejandro Iñárritu and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have opened for us new doors of cinematic perception.

Carne y Arena, Iñárritu’s multimedia art and cinema experience, is a deeply emotional and physically immersive venture into the world of migrants crossing the desert of the American southwest in early dawn light.”

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The installation is currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Fondazione Prada in Milan and Tlatelolco Cultural Center in Mexico City.

While it might not be possible for everyone to visit it, it does raise questions about the value that virtual reality is beginning to hold in the filmmaking industry.

One thing seems certain – this fresh realm of storytelling is likely to keep developing in the coming years. Who knows? We may even have a virtual reality category at the Academy Awards one day.

The Oscar® will be presented to Carne y Arena at the Academy’s 9th Annual Governors Awards on November 11, 2017.