libraries as cognitive spaces

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LibrariesInPlay: A library of perspectives and interpretations

Libraries are thought to play a very specific role in our lives – they are supposed to make published material accessible to the public. We are interpreting the role that libraries play for us in a slightly broader way. We think libraries ought to represent the present living moment also and not just the past. Understanding a library’s public function as a space to visit to reflect, analyse, speculate and understand, the current notion of the library is very limited. With LibrariesInPlay we will be attempting to extend this notion in some ways.

Our Open Library System (OLS) has a few qualities as a physical library system. It is configurable (for any space that it inhabits), flexible (the specific display that the system allows is variable), porous (it is not fully opaque), adaptable (its shape and function is not fixed and it shifts as per requirement), engaging (the focus of the library is engagement and interaction and not stacking).

The imagination that we have of ourselves as humans is the material of this project. What we as a society understand ourselves to be is largely based on what we know and what we absorb in the form of information and this is what the project hopes to change and effect through our re-configured library.

Our actions reflect the depth of emotion we allow ourselves to feel, which in turn reflects the quality of imagination we hold of ourselves. This imagination is affected of course by what we know of the world around us and the character of the time we live in. The LibrariesInPlay project would like to engage, inform and deepen this knowledge.

What we know of people and practices active in this time is only a small fraction of the people and practices actually active in this time—this is a knowledge (more diverse and open about the passage of time, timeliness) gap— which urgently needs to be acknowledged and addressed. This gap exists partially because of how we pre-condition and pre-qualify what we can know. We develop the format and framework of what is worth knowing before we take stock of what is actually out there. This pre-knowing, of course, does not really allow us to know at all. The project hopes to tackle different scenarios and knowledge-spaces and change the way individuals engage with them to form a coherent idea of it. Starting with Art, to Health, to Taste, Touch, Humour and Movement we want to consolidate the knowledge spaces of all these primary aspects of human culture. In this effort, we will make libraries for different human instincts and desires.

Through the multiple openings for participation that the LibrariesInPlay project launches, we want to give context, narrative and form to the vast variety of creative practice out there. The project wants to engage with the depth and range of creative practice active in our time in a very media agnostic manner. The other models we have currently to assimilate new ideas are the public gallery and the museum. We want to position the library as a more appropriate and opportune site for being in the presence of new ideas as opposed to galleries and museums. Galleries and museums are primarily visual whereas libraries demand a more engaged behaviour (seeking, browsing, reading) by default. We are modelling different ideas for arranging the synthesis stage in a timely manner – specifically meaning to address the ways we choose/select ideas while trying to engage and evaluate them. This is a special area of concern because we feel that the lack of robustness in our mechanisms of synthesising (and so of choosing/selecting and assessing) is responsible for our inability to make sense of work being produced in our time.

If this happens in a small way and we are able to make sense of more of the world we live in, we will automatically fill the voids we place ourselves into. It is to feel emptiness or isolation in an overcrowded world.

I hope you participate in this project, in one of the many ways – send us your work, host an exhibition, support the overall effort or get a copy of the eventual publication!

ver 0.2 (Updated December 26, 2018)

Director: Prayas Abhinav

Design Lead: Priyamvada Gaur