Human Copyright The Great Thinking Man and Woman's Exhibition

Tuesday Nov 24 2009

The red ochre of the Lascaux caves, the alphabet, counting stones, the printing press, the first maps of the world, and many more examples of how the human mind thinks and creates await at the great Human Copyright exhibition.

The red ochre of the Lascaux caves, the alphabet, counting stones, the printing press, the first maps of the world, and many more examples of how the human mind thinks and creates await at the great Human Copyright exhibition, November 25, 2009, to September 6, 2010, at Québec City's Musée de la civilisation.

Impenetrable, mysterious, fascinating... A thinking mind has been a shared human trait since time immemorial—and will be so for ages to come. Now the public can explore this defining faculty of humanity from its very origins to the advent of artificial intelligence at the exhibition Human Copyright. The ability to think and reflect is uniquely human, it is our copyright, our Human Copyright.

"The Human Copyright exhibition dovetails perfectly with Musée de la civilisation's passion for exploration. As an institution that prides itself on its openness to fields outside museology, the Museum is receptive to the blending of disciplines and the resulting interdisciplinary dialogue that enrich its expression as a museum and create spaces rich in metaphor and meaning. Human Copyright is a real step forward for the Museum as it continues to pursue this approach," said Museum executive director Claire Simard. "The ability to think and reflect—our copyright as humans—is a complex subject, but one that is tailor-made for a museum of civilization. It allows us to explore the distant past, to examine the present, and to try to define and comprehend the future of humanity. We have chosen to tackle this subject by crossing boundaries between disciplines and areas of expertise. In Human Copyright, visitors will enjoy an intellectually, artistically, and scientifically rewarding experience in which they become objects of self-study as they reflect on what it means to be human."

A three-part presentation
The presentation is divided into three sequential parts. Visitors discover how human thought—the ruminations of researchers, artists, scientists, and even ordinary individuals who showed perseverance and creativity—has changed the world. Some 220 carefully selected objects illustrate the exercise and evolution of human thought in all its complexity. Interactive displays and film clips further develop this exceedingly rich theme.

Prehuman: the fossil mind
Where do we come from? How do the great apes and humans resemble one another? To understand the origins of modern humankind, we must travel back to the fossil mind, that of the primates. Two events are of particular note.

About 2,000,000 years ago, Hominids began to manufacture tools. This marked the entry of representation and conceptualization into the thought process. To make the same tools over and over, they needed to draw on memory and probably a rudimentary form of language made up of signs or grunts. A second event occurred 300,000 years ago—lexical invention. These were the origins of human thought.

Illustrating this period are videos, giant photographs, tools, a Cro-Magnon skull, archeological finds (flints, arrowheads), two unusual works by a Congolese chimpanzee artist, and a work by Betty Goodwin showing the evolution of the species and the important role bigger brains and walking upright played in the development of thought.

Humankind: a cultural animal
Humans are unique in the animal kingdom for their creativity, language, and ability to conceptualize. According to scientists, there are two forms of thought: the "natural" thought of animals and the "artificial or cultural" thought found only in humans.

"I think, therefore I am!" (Descartes). Humans are aware of their perceptions, actions, and thoughts and thus of their own existence. They have used this awareness to tailor the world to their needs and conceive objects that reveal their thoughts.

In this part of the exhibition, objects eloquently illustrate human self-awareness and the ability to develop symbolic language, to communicate, to create rituals, to formulate and share thoughts through the written word, to organize the mind through counting and measurement, to study the brain and its functioning, to create, to invent, but also to oppress or to revolt. Among the objects are rock paintings, figurines and statuettes, a farmer's plow, ritual masks, funeral urns, cuneiform tablets, a pascaline, manuscripts, neurosurgery tools, brain scans, a huge photograph (Brain/dummy from the Inside/Outside series by Katherine Du Tiel)...and slave handcuffs.

Posthuman: artificial intelligence
Humans have forever dreamed of creating a being in their own image. The artificial intelligence humans began developing 40 years ago is today's continuance of that dream: understand how the mind works and simulate human reasoning in a machine that surpasses human abilities through the power of new computer technology.

This posthuman era of thought is one of partnership between human intelligence and less intelligent, but increasingly autonomous machines.

But what if robots and computers became as intelligent as humans, or even more so? What would society be like? Many modern-day thinkers share their perspectives on such questions in an interactive installation called "artificial dialogue." Join Mario Beauregard, doctor of neuroscience; Nick Bostrom, philosopher; Marie Chouinard, dancer and choreographer; Thomas De Koninck, philosopher; Nayla Farouki, philosopher; Yves Gingras, science historian; Albert Jacquard, geneticist and author; Ray Kuertweil, computer scientist; Marie Laberge, novelist; Céline Lafontaine, sociologist and author; Luc Langevin, magician and physics student; André Parent, neurobiologist at Université Laval's Robert Giffard Research Center; Michel Raymond, evolutionary biology specialist, Hubert Reeves, physician and author; Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk and biologist; and Douglas Rushkoff, new media theorist.

This presentation area features an interactive robot environment, Area V5, created especially for the exhibition by internationally renowned Québec artist Louis-Philippe Demers.

At atmospheric use of space
Through a subtle and poetic use of space, the exhibition design team at Ateliers in Situ has created an atmosphere suggestive of science and technology. Multimedia and graphic design elements combine with the lighting to draw on the full range of museum presentation tools.

New! Tour the exhibition via wireless Internet—and a minisite
Commentary on the exhibition is available over wireless Internet in the exhibit hall. Access is via iPod touch devices available at the entrance for a $2 rental fee. Free Web access is also available to visitors over their own iPod touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, or cell phones. It is also possible to download the exhibition tour free onto an iPod or MP3 player using a personal computer by going to

As a matter of fact, this "well thought out" microsite makes an admirable addition to the exhibition with its plethora of information on the topics discussed and the objects presented. Visitors can also view the reflections of the great thinkers who took part in the "artificial dialogue."

Human Copyright, a captivating exhibition at Musée de la civilisation in Québec City, November 25, 2009, to September 6, 2010. A creation of Musée de la civilisation, presented by Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard in collaboration with the Musée de la civilisation Foundation and the newspaper Le Soleil. Alcoa is a partner for all Musée de la civilisation programming.

Information and Reservations
Press relations : Serge Poulin, 418 528-2072 / Email

– Musée de la civilisation –

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Quebec City (Québec) G1K 8R2
T. 418 643-2158
Toll-free 1 866 710-8031

– Musée de l'Amérique –

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Quebec City (Québec) G1R 3V6
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Toll-free 1 866 710-8031