By Michelle Broder Van Dyke
The soundtrack is a mix of crashing waves and an auctioneer's chanting of IP addresses--codes of numbers that, in this case, virtually transport a click from the 7 Sultans Casino, one of the 300 online casinos hosted in Quebec's Kahnawake reservation, to China. With Internet travel dominating the background, it takes a moment to realize that the surfer is shredding the same infinite wave, which is formed from a rock hidden beneath the water.
In the 42-minute documentary "New Kahnawake," French artists Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin explore the parallels between virtual and real travel by focusing on the Kahnawake, a Mohawk tribe that hosts online casinos.
"Nowadays, there's this gate where the real space meets the Internet space," Bernier says, "and the Kahnawake territory is a place like that because of this new activity."
Originally, the Kahnawake did not want casinos, the artists say, so it was suggested that they host poker, casinos, and sports book Web sites. Since 1998, the reservation has hosted these virtual gambling spots to mixed results: It has raised funds for new schools and health care, but some members of the community still oppose casinos--real or virtual--on the reservation, the duo says.
"We wanted to show that it's a small community, whose people are divided," Martin says.
Below: A scene from the documentary New Kahnawake.