Arts & Culture
Labyrinths of Mexico City: The Vasconcelos Library
Mxcity
Vasconcelos Library is one of the Mexico City's biggest and most accessible public libraries. Loaded with books, there's also art and exhibition room in one of the city's most alluring public spaces.
alberto-kalach-biblioteca-vasconcelos-designboom-05

Borges’ Library of Babel inspired not only Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, but perhaps Kanach’s Vasconcelos Library too. One of humankind’s most ancient and complex symbols, the labyrinthine library represents the individual’s constant search for intrinsic wisdom. This connection with pure being and the accidental seduction of inner temperance give rise to hundreds of questions that transform into narrow walls from which it is hard to find an exit. The labyrinth as metaphor is befitting for a library, especially one like the Vasconcelos Library, one of the most entangled, aspiration and accessible architectural designs in Mexico City. Minimalist cubic geometry and motionless edges rise to a six level structure, but this beautiful building becomes a path through the trails of any book lover’s sensory and creative interior, anyone who’s willing to venture down  mysterious and exquisite passageways. 

biblioteca-vasconcelos green environment

Vasconcelos Library is the masterpiece of contemporary engineer Alberto Kanach, a sort of modern conclave built in the middle of a surrealist garden in Buenavista, Mexico City. Inside, one can wander through the hundreds of square-shaped shelves that embellish its crystal halls. Even though their archive only contains 575 thousand books (collected through its nine years of existence), its subject classification is large. It also has a children’s library, a multimedia room, computers and reading stations.

Perhaps, one of its most appealing characteristics is its light; we can discern sun rays from any of the three buildings that conform the library, creating the illusion that we are reaching the center of a labyrinth and the only light that reaches us is the one that filters from its exits.

BV

Of course, one of the most seductive sections of the library is the aforementioned surrealist garden. A dreamy maze of sorts containing over 60 thousand plant species was installed around the building, interacting with the grey walls and translucid window panes of its modernist architecture; a hybrid that connects the public space’s green areas with the cutting edge building design.  

Perhaps, at its core, the Vasconcelos library is  not an ancient ideogram as is the labyrinth, but we can be certain that it is an auspice of knowledge and one of meditation, very similar to the labyrinth; a wonderful transcendental device for the fertility of our city’ s ever growing collectivity.

vasconcelos-jmdd

BV

Jardines_suroeste_Biblioteca_Vasconcelos

B Vasconcelos

Vasconcelos Library

Address: Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta S/N, Colonia Buenavista, 06350 Ciudad de México
Metro Stations: Buenavista and Guerrero, B Line
Phone: 01 55 9157 2800

ILUMINA, an alien-like sculpture of light and sound that shines with emotions
Mxcity
ILUMINA is an art piece where technology, design, light and sound invites us to experience the ways in which we are all connected to the cosmos.
ilumina-art

ILUMINA is an interactive sculpture of light and sound fed by the collective energy of people’s hearts.

 

Art and technology are two faces of human creativity, two that are also closely related, despite the differences they apparently have with each other. What art does on many occasions has been achieved thanks to a specific technical development, a technology whose existence allows the artists to enhance or limit their creative work. Yes, it conditions it, but possibly also encourages it to transcend those limitations.

In this sense, the relationship between one and another human activities could be found in virtually any era, but it is certainly in recent times when technology has a presence, so persistent, somehow so inescapable, that art has been benefited for incorporating it. Both as a resource, an instrument, as part of the examination of contemporary reality, when many of our practices and interactions almost necessarily pass through a technological device.

Thus, somehow the ideal professed by Nietzsche on the need to transform life in a work of art, but this time through art and technology. Somehow the aesthetic sensibility, the discovery of the admirable or the frankly beautiful that any of us can perceive, finds a vehicle, a means of transmission and expression in how art can be magnified through technology.

 

L179372-min-768x513

 

Captura de pantalla 2019-04-10 a las 16.26.37

 

Nowadays, it is becoming more and more complex to achieve high levels of consciousness, and to create a community without being outside of technology, but ww can use it as a tool to improve our sensitive abilities. To the same extent that we depend on technology to survive, it has become part of our lives, even in its most spiritual and even transcendental recesses. Art, now more than ever, demands to be a vehicle to explore different states that bring us closer to the dimensions of the infinite

Ilumina is an installation created by the artist Pablo Gonzalez Vargas, who through a deep exploration with the power of interconnectivity, proposes a method to improve the energy field of the planet. Pablo Gonzalez created a majestic interactive sculpture of light and sound that is activated by the emotional states of people, generating a beautiful light show and a sound landscape where the participants enter a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves and with each other.

 

L179573-copy-min-768x513

 

P189869-min-768x513

 

Ilumina is a metallic art monument, completed with aluminum and LED lights that together form an architectural piece full of harmony. The piece of art combines technology with a design of ancient wisdom. Ilumina has a program that responds to external stimuli, being able to shine more while more “coherent” is the group that hosts, generating a unique shared experience.

Ilumina is a chilling visual experience, and the volunteers who participate in the exercise of meditative immersion that lasts three minutes, are transported to a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves, with their fellow participants and with the cosmos through a patented fusion of modern technology and transpersonal art.

 

 

The biometric sensors are connected to the ear lobes of each participant, which measures their unique state of coherence and averages them together. This is how lighting design and moving soundscapes respond to a unique algorithm, a product of HeartMath that uses biometric sensors for personal self-training in the regulation of emotional states where the sculpture becomes brighter to the extent that the users experiment with their emotions.

The team that created Ilumina included about 20 people from different disciplines and contributions. There was a large industrial design team that shaped the exact model that was taken to manufacturing. Marco Kalach worked with an expert manufacturing workshop, because as it is a public use facility in particular events, it had to comply with all the rules, structural regulations and with protection codes. The executive producer of the project was Gaby Vargas, who was responsible for the expertise at HeartMath, and joined by mexican musicians and audio engineers to make the experience of 360 degrees of immersive sound, led by Billy Mendez. The lighting team, directed by Paolo Montiel, coordinated all the programming and lighting design that makes symbiosis with the audio.

 

Captura de pantalla 2019-04-10 a las 16.25.50

 

ilumina-art-2

 

It was at Burning Man 2012, where Pablo Gonzalez Vargas created an art car called Mayan Warrior: a luminescence project and a spectacular audio show featuring pieces by the artist Alex Gray and musical performances by elite artists from Mexico and around the world.

In the penultimate edition of Burning Man, Pablo Gonzalez and his team decided to go a step beyond the great proposal that is Mayan Warrior, by presenting Ilumina, this piece of sacred geometry that radiates not only light but an algorithmic sacrality, it’s as mystical and hypnotic as an art piece can get. The tower of almost 12 meters high illuminated the Nevada desert at the Burning Man Festival 2017, and users managed to enter a mental state full of concentration characterized by a complete absorption, a wonderful moment of loss of the notion of spacetime.

 

ROAC9999-min-2-768x512

 

ROAC9873-HDR-min-768x512

 

It is expected that later there will be replicas of these sculptures, so that they can reach new locations around the world, and we can experience this amazing spectacle of light and the soundscape that connects us with the profound mysticism that exists in ourselves and that highlights the interconnectivity of our planet with the global energy fields.

Here are some photos of this beautiful project, in which lies the probability of a coherent and luminous future that would be worth living.

 

Captura de pantalla 2019-04-10 a las 16.26.18

 

ROAC9812-min-768x512

 

ROAC9739-min-1-768x512

 

Burning Man 2017

 

If you want to know more about this beautiful project or about the creative artist and allies that integrate it, visit their social media channels:

 

Ilumina Art Installation

Sitio web //  Facebook //  Instagram

 

The Five Most Beautiful Mexico City Libraries
Mxcity
For budget travelers, Mexico City libraries were always among the most attractive, free attractions to visit. Today, they're simply too inviting to pass up.
Mexico City Libraries

Chilangos may cherish their reputation for never reading, but Mexico City libraries present a very contrary picture. 
 

Though the internet makes lots more information available to lots more people, Mexico City libraries have simply not been supplanted. Charged with continually re-inventing themselves, and their places in the public imagination, one can still encounter eras gone by and great historical minds in a library as in few other places.

Knowledge, after all, belongs to everyone. Opening a book, reading it at a study, or just meeting in the silence of one these Mexico City libraries enhances concentration, and provides a welcome respite from everything going on out there in the world. 

Of all Mexico City libraries, the oldest were part of the church and one or another of its offshoot organizations. Among these was the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, founded in the 1530s and surviving today as the Biblioteca José María Lafragua. Most of these ecclesiastical libraries were not truly open to the public, and Mexico had to wait for the  National Library of Mexico, inaugurated by Benito Juárez in 1867 to enjoy the benefits of a truly public library system.

The list below is intended to let you enjoy some of that system, too. 

José Vasconcelos Library

Mexico City Libraries

Opened just ten years ago, in 2006, the Vasconcelos is visited by thousands for the sheer spectacle of its innovative design. Graced by the iconic whale from artist, Gabriel Orozco, it’s always a good library for art and visual spectacle. The facade retains something of a colonial appearance, but for sheer scale, and jaw-dropping space, the interior must be experienced.

Address: Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta S / N, Buenavista
Website 

 

UNAM Central Library 

Mexico City Libraries

We’ve written a lot about it in these pages, but the UNAM library with the Juan O’Gorman murals remains one of the most outstanding of all Mexico City libraries. As a UNESCO site with some 428,000 volumes in the collection, it’s the biggest in Mexico, but lots of folks visit just to see the facade and the surrounding grounds. 

Address: Circuito Interior S / N, Coyoacán, Ciudad Universitaria
Website

 

National Library of Mexico

biblioteca-nacional-de-mexico

Opened by Benito Juárez in 1867, there’s still a good one million books inside, today administered by the folks from UNAM. Originally located in the San Agustín church in the city center, the current building was opened in 1979. Geometric, and massive, it’s an extraordinary place to visit.

Address: Av. Universidad 3000, Coyocacan
Website

 

Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library

Biblioteca_Miguel_Lerdo_de_Tejada

Specializing in economic materials, this collection of some 86,350 books and 114,852 journals is administered by the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Founded in 1928, it’s one of the cities true public art spectacles. Inside the main nave of the old Oratory of San Felipe Neri “El Nuevo,” the baroque façade outside is just the beginning. Inside, the murals are futuristic, and not to be missed.

Address: Av. República de el Salvador 49, Centro Histórico, col. Centro Histórico

 

Library of Congress of the Union

biblioteca-del-congreso-de-la-union

One of Centro’s truly outstanding historical buildings, for centuries it was the convent of the Clarisas from the 16th century. Today it’s something like a “Library of Congress” with a stunning collection of publications and artifacts, but also with a lush, deep, dark intellectual interior, that beckons from centuries past. 

Address: Tacuba 29, Centro Histórico

Photographs this page: Flickr – Creative Commons