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29 Nov, 2019

Head in the Cloud: Quebec City Museum Explores Human Impact of the Digital Revolution

QUÉBEC CITY, Nov. 27, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – In the great history of humanity, the appearance of writing, the invention of printing and the Industrial Revolution have been powerful drivers of change. Today, the advent of digital technology is even more disruptive—a little frightening even—due to the creation of this gigantic “cloud” that processes huge quantities of data every day. The ever shorter lapses between technological innovations mean these latter are outpacing society’s ability to assimilate and comprehend them.

Musée de la Civilisation takes a playful approach to this global-scale whirlwind in its immersive exhibition Head in the Cloud, which will be presented until January 31, 2021.

Head in the Cloud, an exhibition not to be missed at Musée de la Civilisation, from November 28th 2019 to January 31st 2021. (CNW Group/Musée de la civilisation)

More than 130 objects, 50 of which are “endangered species,” are showcased in this exhibition that impresses on visitors the omnipresence of new technologies in our lives and the speed at which they are evolving. These technologies disrupt information, interpersonal relationships and consumer habits while also redefining the very notions of privacy and work.A museum visit in five zones

The exhibition’s first part shows the dizzying amount of data we produce daily, its unsuspected value and the way it travels. In the second zone, visitors discover how the applications and preferences we configure on our mobile devices create an “echosystem” that in turn gives us the false impression that it reflects reality.

The exhibition’s third zone, entitled Airplane Mode, was co-produced with the National Film Board (NFB). It suggests visitors take a step back to better observe the effects connectivity has on each of us individually as well as on our relationships with others and with our phones. The fourth part of the exhibition explores the growing presence of robots capable of replacing humans in many tasks.

The fifth and last zone concludes the exhibition by focusing on privacy issues. It reminds us that cameras are watching us, and more and more smart connected things are recording our very actions. We are forced to reflect on the individual and societal choices this digital storm pushes us to make.

A spy in your pocket

Will visitors’ heads be less “in the cloud” when they leave the exhibition? One thing is for sure: They’ll never look at their phones the same way again! Perhaps especially when they are reminded that, because of the “spy” in their pocket, they have been tracked at every step by sensors placed throughout the exhibition that have captured their every attempt to connect to the Web.

Immersive scenography

Visitors will be surprised by the scenography, which harmoniously blends technological hardware with noble materials such as wood. This choice adds some warmth to the cold, stark world of technology. Large wood-framed windows evoke screens in the various exhibition zones. The areas all begin with a piece of artwork or an installation, which pleasantly adds to the immersive experience. For example, the faces of Denis Farley’s large canvases evoke the lightness of the cloud, while their back sides depict the cloud as a tangle of cables.

Quote:“As an institution dedicated to the human experience and the evolution of society, the Musée de la Civilisation felt it important to explore the digital revolution and highlight its impact on our individual, interpersonal and collective behaviour. Questioning the present to project ourselves into the future takes on a whole new meaning in this context. I hope our visitors will take some time for reflection, so that their behaviour in the future may be both relevant and useful.” —Stephan La Roche, Chair and Executive Director


The following artists contributed to the Head in the Cloud exhibition:

(+) Grégory Chatonsky, Horizon

(+) Denis Farley, Network Blue; Network Yellow Orange with door; Espace aérien, séquences 1 et 2; Espace aérien, près du mont Orford
Laurie Frick, Felt Personality

(+) Collectif Obvious, Portrait du comte de Belamy

(+) Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Krzysztof Wodiczko, Zoom Pavilion

(+) Bill Vorn, Twin Bodie.s

(+) Dima Yarovinsky, I Agree

Among the 130 objects are:

(+) A cuneiform tablet, 169 BCE

(+) A book of hours, 15th century

(+) A smart street lamp

(+) A piece of the underwater cable that broke off in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine in November 2018

(+) Some of the “endangered” objects are a cardex, a public telephone booth, paper money and a drawing table

(+) ABB’s collaborative robot YuMi

(+) Industrial robots from FANUC

(+) A prototype of the Canadian Space Agency’s rover for lunar exploration

== Since 2003, we produce more data in two days than was produced since the beginning of humanity. All this data is stored in the cloud and interconnected.

== Every day, we scroll on average the equivalent of 12 floors on our phones.

== Some 99% of exchanges (text messages, emails, movies, music, purchases and news) pass through underwater cables, and only 1% by satellite.

== Quebec is a data-centre paradise, thanks to its cold climate and the competitive price of hydroelectricity. There are 45 such centres in Quebec, most of which are located in and around Montréal.

== Almost all Quebecers aged 18 to 24 (95%) use social media to keep up on the news.

== For 10 years now, there have been more objects online than humans; intelligent TVs, smart meters, security cameras, GPS, smart phones, Google Home collect data and other objects all record and film our conversations.

== Automation and rapid advances in artificial intelligence could profoundly transform up to 25% of current jobs. Robots will do many jobs in the future, including receptionist, driver, legal assistant, surgeon and radiologist.

Related links: Musée de la civilisation: www.mcq.org et www.youtube.com/user/mcqpromo

National Film Board (NFB): www.nfb.ca  

Airplane Modehttps://www.nfb.ca/interactive/airplane_mode

SOURCE Musée de la Civilisation