Shirin Abu Shaqra

Biblioteca (interactive experience in progress)

We are always astonished by the skill of 15th century humanists to find lost manuscripts. Where do they find them? In these libraries that are made to hide as well as to make reappear.

Umberto Eco, De Biblioteca

Nous sommes toujours étonnés par l’habileté des humanistes du XVe à retrouver les manuscrits perdus, où les retrouvent-ils? Dans les bibliothèques qui servaient à la fois pour cacher et pour faire retrouver.

Umberto Eco, De biblioteca

synopsis

An austere and enormous modern library with no exits, but with stairs that lead to nowhere. Fragments of 19th century archives are projected on the walls. To gather a higher score, the user is presented with two possibilities: either to throw eyeballs on books, or to shoot at them with a gun. Every shot triggers random sounds of a woman’s howl, a baby’s laugh or a baby’s cry.

statement

The peoples’ revolutions that take place during the same period of time, share more or less similar patterns, influences, paths. Likewise, dictators improve their learning curve to repress the peoples demands.

2019, in Lebanon, Iran, Chile, Hong Kong, Algeria, Iraq, Haiti, France (yellow vests), people demonstrated against failed states… During these movements, the police forces shot at people from the back, often times at their heads, despite the weapons ‘user’s manual’ prohibiting such acts. Many demonstrators lost an eye. The gaze that is watching for injustices had to be blinded. Then came covid…

In 2019, I was in Lebanon preparing for the production of my first feature film and a solo exhibition on prolific writer and journalist Ahmad Fares al Shidyaq (1804-1887). On October 17th, the revolution started, followed by the economic collapse, covid and right after, the port explosion. Within months, the history of the country changed drastically. 

During a revolution, time takes a different stance. It becomes more than ever condensed, multilayered, multi-geographical. You follow news at every instance, your brain processes the now, thinks of strategies for the future, all while fighting, with bare hands, the armed brother. Then come flashes of what you were once doing, and where our consciousness will never return. The mental shift has operated. It is also a revolution of the being.

This library wants to keep in memory this piece of history ; the 19th century one intertwined with contemporary world history. The gesture of throwing rocks at your brother in self defense, or blinding a guardian of justice, and the ethos that a revolution instills in our transnational beings, cannot but confirm the Bachelardian and Kantian dialectics of life. Yes, there are moments of ruptures, but only to make consciousness go forward, and we are a tiny fragment in it all… For today, I can only say that a gun is a disemboweled woman, a demonstration is a lost eye, but a library is a memory kept forever…

The rest of the project is coming soon, stay tuned.

used softwares Maya, Unreal Engine, Photoshop, Substance Designer, Substance Sampler, Substance Painter, audition

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