Man of the Book
(2015)
Site responsive installation at the Luke Lindoe Library, Calgary (CA)

An appointment must be made with the doorkeeper (artist) in order to experience the installation. Only one person at a time may experience the work. After an arrangement has been made, the viewer is escorted to the back of the library where they enter a room in which the archives are housed. This room is unlit and sensory knowledge of the space is obscured in its darkness.

You enter the room alone. There is a chair that you have been advised to sit on. In front of you there is an abnormally small door that measures one quarter of an average sized door. Although you cannot see it, you can feel it with your outstretched arm. You find the knob and open it.

The scene before you consists of a small spotlight in the distance; shining dimly upon a mound of reflective white dust. You sit on the chair and view it from the precipice of the archival room. There is a gentle wind that gusts out of the vast space and continuously drifts over your face and body.

A voice begins to speak. It can be heard clearly from the depths of the space. The words being spoken to you are excerpts from Jorge Luis Borges' (1899-1986) short story The Library of Babel (1941). The voice of the text is that of Bill Austin; librarian at the Luke Lindoe Library, where the installation is located.

As your experience in the darkness lengthens, your vision adapts to your surroundings. You begin to see more matter within the space, but still struggle to focus on anything recognizable other than the small and distant mound of reflective dust.

The voice stops speaking. You rise from the chair and exit the room. You are greeted by the doorkeeper and given a token of appreciation in the form of a double-sided card that notes your appointment number and the date and time of your visit.

*50 people experienced Man of The Book from March 5th to April 13th, 2015.