On November 20, Mexicans commemorate the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. Like few other places, there’s no notice of the Armistice celebrated in Europe, but Mexicans recount that their own revolution changed the very perception of justice, the names of hundreds of streets and universal suffrage that couldn’t have been dreamed of before. The Mexican Revolution wasn’t merely the opening of the great social revolts that would soon overcome the world of the 20th-century, but it was the painful awakening of an entirely new era.
From the first, very civil overtures for reform from Francisco I Madero until the years of the Maximato (1928-1934), Mexico City was the epicenter of the conflict. All of the great revolutionary fighters converged here, some of the most important violent acts were committed here, several bloody battles were fought, and ultimately, even President Alvaro Obregon’s hand was, for a time, preserved in a mausoleum built on the site of his assassination. The president had himself lost the limb in the war and had kept it soaking in formaldehyde. His other remains were returned to his native Sonora.
As so much of the war took place within the city, a few of the most important sites can still be visited even today. These are just some of them.
In the city’s northeast, in the delegation of Venustiano Carranza, today it’s the home to the National Archives of Mexico. But the palace was built and served as an ostentatious penitentiary of some 804 cells housing the hundreds of famous people at odds with the revolutionary government. In this dark palace, Victoriano Huerta assassinated President Francisco I. Madero and his Vice-President, Pino Suarez, ushering in one of the most violent periods of the Mexican Revolution.
On the site of the old Cafe La Bombilla in which Obregon was killed, today’s Parque La Bombilla also occupies most of what had been the Chimalistac orchards. On Insurgentes Sur, today, the monument houses a bronze statue honoring Obregon and a room once dedicated to the display of the president’s severed hand. The park was renovated in 2015.
Today one of the most heavily traveled traffic arteries in the city, the name of the avenue is for that most seasoned and widely acclaimed of divisions of the revolutionary army. Led by the famous Pancho Villa, the division was manned by peasants, rancheros and cowboys and fought many of the war’s most decisive battles. Unstoppable for a time, the Division changed the social and political lives of all of the northern Mexican states.
Remarkably well preserved, La Opera opened its doors at this location (Calle 5 de Mayo #10) in 1895, just in time for the spectacular closing of the Porfirato. Most certainly visited by Porfirio Diaz himself, the cafe later became a convenient site for Zapata and others to plan strategies. Alway emblematic, a bullet fired by Pancho Villa is believed still embedded in the ceiling, and the menu, even today, remains macho, and fit for history fanatics as well as more humble diners.
In 1876, Porfirio Díaz announced plans to build a new legislative hall for representatives and senators within Mexico City. Construction was begun, and on September 23, 1910, the tyrannical Diaz ironically laid the cornerstone for the building and construction continued even after Diaz’s 1911 ouster. The legislative palace then sat unfinished for almost 30 years as the Mexican Revolution and its long aftermath slowly came to a resolution. When architect Carlos Obregon was finally given authority (and funds) in the mid-1930s, the projected was converted to a combination museum, mausoleum, and a monument, to the revolution, to the past and to that particular moment in history. Indeed, the unique combination of Art Deco, Mexican Socialist Realism, and all over a Neo-Classical frame, is still rare, if not totally unique, in the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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