“The artist himself becomes enclosed within restricted borders, indicating that the radical dichotomy between the game and the real is ultimately not sustainable” (Raley 63)
When Luis Hernandez was detained by Homeland Security in 2005, and later barred from entering the United States for five years, he “in a sense became embedded in his own game” (Raley 63). Obviously there was something politically threatening about the game in order for it to warrant such a reaction from the government. Maybe it was the posture it took towards the importation of illegal narcotics into the States, in a way sanctioning it by making it the “goal” of the game and a sympathetic representation of the traffickers? Or was it essentially the maps revealing the underground tunnels which facilitated the move of drugs into the country, making it a practical threat to national security? Interestingly, Hernandez himself sees it as “art” and as a piece of art it was commissioned to help educate Americans and give them a greater “cross-understanding” of the issues surrounding the U.S. and Mexican border (63). He separates it from the material realities it represents, and then surprisingly finds himself subject to those same realities.
It brings up the question how separated can it really be if it its goal is to be effective? At some point groups like Critical Art Ensemble in order to have any impact at all, need to cross the line into potentially subversive and risk-necessitated actions. If something is just educational, or pedagogical in purpose, can it have the influence that would eventually predicate action on the part of the audience? How convincing is a game or a disturbance or a symbolic action if it appears, creates a scene, attracts attention and then disappears again with the waters of social and cultural normality closing over it? Can it be more persuasive than the judges on “The Voice”? In a fattened society like America with so much to gain (always) and nothing to lose (always), what kind of messages or PR could move them towards actions? Maybe not video games…
I think there is not desperation enough to warrant it. We certainly don’t have the desperation which would risk life and limb, suffer and keep trying, to cross a border so that they could share our Lazy-boys with us.