One of the challenges that I faced during the creation of Walking Along the Border was likely how to use digital technology to create an emotional and immersive experience for viewers. The project’s core features revolve around the goal of allowing viewers to explore the refugee crisis in a personal and empathetic way, which can be a difficult task to achieve with digital installations. Another challenge was working within a tight timeframe of just one month, which required efficient planning to bring the concept to completion.
Walking Along the Border witnesses its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter, and justice: from numbers to facts; from teeming refugee camps to barbed-wire borders; and from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance, and adaptation. It presents an immersive experience that invites a most personal exploration: one that lets each viewer consider what it’s like to live as some of the most vulnerable people—and to ponder what we owe to one another as human beings.
The final layer of Walking Along the Border lies with the audience, in the outgoing rush of their unique, cumulative responses to what they saw and felt, to take it all in and connect to it through their own experiences. The installation gives audiences the space to explore the refugee crisis in a way they may have not felt it before. The experience becomes a reminder that only the good fortune of being born in a peaceful country stands between the audience and the refugees. Their peril results not from their actions but from arbitrary accidents of geography.
The refugee crisis is the biggest subject of our times. More people are on the move and dying on the way to safety. This is not a topic we can turn away from. Even if you try, it will still be there, and we will still have to deal with it. You can’t stop it by building border walls; people will keep coming when their survival is at stake. We have an obligation to think empathetically and try to solve the issues at the root of it all, to think about how we will live together.
Design + Execution
The installation features a proximity sensor that tracks people within a Cartesian coordinate system and communicates with a projector to interact with video content and data, Encouraging the audience to use back shadow to decode information about refugees.
The project’s core features include its immersive experience that invites personal exploration, merging multiple sources of information into one exhibition, and giving audiences the space to explore the refugee crisis in a new way. My inspiration for the project comes from the urgency of the refugee crisis and the need to think empathetically and solve the issues at the root of it all.
Yan Yan (designer)
Brad Bartlett (instructor), Miles Mazzie (instructor), Julian Stein (instructor)