|2013||Nonny de la Peña|
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“I’m giving you a subjective bodily experience, but that doesn’t mean that the content can’t be informed by journalistic best practices.”
Nonny de la Peña, Author, in PSB.org blog
In May 2010, migrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was deported to Mexico after 27 years spent living, working, and raising a family in the US. Almost immediately he attempted to sneak back across the border, but he was detained, assaulted, and ultimately beaten to death by border patrol agents. The incident was captured on multiple video cameras. With Use of Force, “immersive journalist” Nonny de la Peña sought to take the experience of witnessing the tragic, brutal event to a whole new level, putting viewers into the moment to heighten their understanding of the event and their empathy for the victim.
While de la Peña has experimented in earlier projects with 3D Immersive World platform SecondLife, for Use of Force she worked with designers and technologists to create their own virtual recreation of the dark, dusty spot at the border where Rojas was killed. Viewers enter the virtual documentary space in a first-person view via a custom-built virtual reality headset. On the scene are recreations of actual witnesses who were powerless to stop the violence despite attempts to save Rojas. Creating the sensation of standing in that crowd, revoking viewers’ agency while immersing them in the gruesome details, makes Use of Force a powerful and visceral documentary experience.