Libraries are where we turn to for books but they are also keepers of stories that go beyond the shelves. They are a place of knowledge and wonder. A treasure trove of fact and fiction. The world is filled with incredible libraries offering us places to explore, study, find peace and community. We often seek them out on our travels for their history and architecture. We love them in the movies (Hello, Harry Potter!) They connect us in many ways even in this digital world. While we emerge from our homes and find ways to explore, Robert LePage’s THE LIBRARY AT NIGHT inspired by the writings of Argentinian Canadian Alberto Manguel, immersive experience is here to remind us that the world is full of amazing places.
From Lighthouse Immersive – creators of Immersive Van Gogh, Immersive Klimt and the upcoming Immersive Frieda Kahlo, comes this new and stunning experience unlike the others. This very special journey is an exploration of ten (both real and fictitious) fascinating libraries of the world.
You enter a library like you enter a forest. There is a sense of order in the rows of books as in the rows of trees, but you don’t yet know what that order is. Someone placed the books there with a certain method in mind, in that certain someone’s mind. A private library is an autobiography of its reader, a mirror of that reader’s mind, of his tastes, prejudices, experience, desires. ~ Alberto Manguel
Upon arrival visitors start their journey by stepping into an “antechamber” replica of Alberto Manguel’s personal library in the South of France. With windows peering to the outside world on rainy day, one can’t help but feel cozy and just wanting a moment to curl up with a big blanket in a corner to absorb one of his books.
Manguel’s soothing voice washes over the darkness. Here is where you delve into his beautiful thoughts. Listen closely. An overview and highlights within these walls give you a sense that you’re truly in something special. Then you’re invited to step into a dreamy forest library setting. Here is where you are seated at one of the tables of your choice and the exploration of the libraries begin through a scenographic and virtual reality experience using an Oculus headset.
Stories are told of the ten stunning library spaces – the Admont Abbey Library (Austria), Hasedera Temple (Japan) , National Library of Sarajevo, are just a few of my favourites. But it’s up to you to move your head around to activate each one and don’t miss any of them! Take your time or take them one after another. Remember to move around in your seat as each one is a reconstructed or fictional library presented an 360 degree experience. The complete virtual reality tour takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Not only are you exploring different libraries but also historical moments and corners of the world. Initially designed by Lepage and his production company Ex Machina to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Montreal’s Grande Bibliothèque in 2015, THE LIBRARY AT NIGHT has since toured internationally, now finally arriving in Toronto, the city Manguel made his Canadian home from 1982-2000.
THE LIBRARY AT NIGHT is running at the Lighthouse Artspace at 1 Yonge Street until April 18. Visit lighthouseimmersive.com for tickets and for more information. The exhibition/experience allows 20 people at one time.
Here are the ten libraries that are in the virtual experience…
*All photos of the libraries are screenshots featured in the immersive experience and provided by Lighthouse Immersive.