Place Holder was a platform for portraying the condition of migration in the globalized world. Borders are constructed and legitimized by representations, such as maps, that are created by the system in power. From the migrants’ standpoint, the border is also internalized, as their sense of self is stuck in a cross-cultural limbo. Migrants must submit to digital surveillance over their identity and physical form when moving across aerial borders. That makes them vulnerable and trackable. This control follows them along the experience of migration when they use the internet to be in touch with their homeland. Every access to the internet, every time they login to an account, they leave a digital footprint that can be used to map them geographically.
Place Holder reacted to this control by creating a safe space, where immigrants were welcomed to use my personal accounts to look at their native home, to subvert the surveillance system. Thanks to the geographical references o ered by Google Earth VR, browsed through a VR goggle, immigrants had visual clues to reconnect with the territory and share very personal stories. These narratives were not presented in the installation to protect the immigrant’s privacy. The level of detail in the map generally corresponded to more involvement and a more gratificating VR experience. The level of detail in the map also had political implications of surveillance and mass tourism. Along with recording their navigation on Google Earth VR, I also recorded their physical presence through a motion capture suit. By processing their data I erased their identity to protect their privacy, but I included these motion capture graphics in Place Holder to stand in for the amount of screenings to which bodies are subjected in airports.