Freedom of Movement in “Tuesday Afternoon”

As I was reading Rita Raley’s chapter on “Border Hacks: Electronic Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Immigration,” I become interested in the concept of movements of money and goods versus the movements of undesirable populations. She mentions Tuesday Afternoon as a hypermedia project that speaks to this subject. Therefore, I investigated Tuesday Afternoon and decide to interact with this media object to get a sense of how international borders have become increasingly easy to cross for capital, but increasingly difficult to cross for migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and all people searching for the freedom of movement. However, while playing this hypermedia, I was pulled into the stories and memories of the border crossers, the feelings of rejection and hopelessness in their desperate situations.

Tuesday Afternoon Trebor Scholz and Carol Flax is a hypermedia project that puts the user into the shoes of a person who is willing to risk everything, including his/her life to reach the United States. Tuesday Afternoon uses image, text, animation, and sound in interactive frames that make each user’s experience with this piece unique. The user is not forced to make any choice, but can explore this work by selecting the path that appears most interesting. As the user begins to interact with the piece, it reveals individual border crossing experiences as snippets of memories. In addition to these memories, the screen begins to fill in the background image, one square at a time. These memories and the image in the background slowly unfold as the user clicks from one text string to the next. On the left hand side of the screen there is a looping video of a path leading into the desert. This video plays non-stop. In addition, there is a looping audio track that plays the sound of crackling wind and footsteps. Down the center of the screen is a sharp, jagged red line. This illustrates what could be an aerial view of a barrier or wall along a border.

After discovering the individual border crossing experiences, the background is revealed. It is a barren, dirt road, with grass on both sides. In the far distance are the mountains, but no sign of civilization. Above is a blue sky spotted with clouds and sunshine streaming through the breaks in the clouds. The user is placed on the same path that the border crossers used in their attempts to come to the United States. While you do not get a sense of the environmental conditions, you do feel the exhaustion mentally. With no sight of civilization, food, water, or shelter, you can understand how treacherous this journey might have been, and how hopeless, tiring, and disheartening it could have seemed at times. As you hear the footsteps and see this path in front of you, you begin to wonder, will this ever be over?  Will I ever make it there? How much longer must I walk?  The user begins to have a unique experience of his own as he gains an understanding from the memories and experiences of those who have already walked this path.