So familiar and so surprising, so simple in appearance and yet the object of such advanced scientific and technological research. Seen from the standpoint of history, art and language, the hair is the focus of an itinerant exhibition realised in partnership with the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie. After Mexico and Hong Kong, the exhibition named "Decoding Hair" will be at the China Science & Technology Museum, in Beijing, on june of 2005.
By using often innovative technology, the visitor to the exhibition simultaneously becomes a spectator, a researcher or a player. Intrigued, amused, surprised, and always being incited to find out more, visitors are invited to marvel as they become aware of the scientific complexity. Hidden within the apparently insignificant hair, and the enormous amount of research that goes into developing a hair care product.
The various cultural aspects of hair are of course not overlooked so that, in the end, 'Decoding Hair' is a real scientific, aesthetic, historical, geographical and social voyage of discovery.
During this voyage, visitors will discover, among other things, a sculpture one metre in diameter representing a hair enlarged 10,000 times, enabling them to admire the hair's structure in all its detail.
Then, by means of an 'audio wig', they will be able to go on a journey of sound through the songs, operas or poems which have evoked hair.
After having discovered for themselves what a weight of 3 kilos means, they will then become aware of the hair's resistance by observing that a strand of 200 hairs is easily capable of withstanding this weight. Looking through a microscope magnifying hair 400 times, visitors will have the opportunity of becoming researchers in their own right, by comparing hair of different colours and ethnic origins.
After which, they simply have to sit in an armchair for a particularly remarkable experience - seeing their own hair enlarged 1,000 times via a video microscope built into the chair's head rest. Quite a surprise to discover something you see every day but have never seen at such close quarters!
The use of a technique usually employed to study hair loss will enable visitors to observe the surface of one square centimetre of hair growing at an accelerated rate. They will thereby understand that growth follows a certain cycle and that the speed of growth differs according to the person's ethnic origins.
Complemented by a demonstration of how the word 'hair' is used in a variety of ways - many of them contradictory - in all languages spoken throughout the world.
Historical or contemporary objects produced for hair or out of hair will surprise and amuse visitors - or perhaps evoke memories and emotions for them.
If they so wish, visitors will also be able to experience a virtual change in hairstyle for a moment by means of a camera connected to a computer. This will give them the chance of choosing from 40 different styles, and seeing themselves with hair as worn in a previous century, a distant country or styled by one of the greatest hair stylists of today.
Since Mexico, two new components have been added to the exhibition : Hair Profiler, an interactive game in which the visitor must find a thief using clues revealed by hair analysis, Hair 3D, a module based on real time three dimensional imaging to offer interactive journeys deep into a human hair. And in Hong Kong, a Hair Quiz that lets the visitor put his or her hair knowledge to the test.
The next stage of this itinerary is the China Science and Technology Museum at Beijing in June 2005