For many years, people have dedicated their lives to finding the truth — why one exists and why anything matters — in other words, the meaning of life. This coming week of October, students will have the opportunity to learn about one man’s study of the meaning of life.
On Oct. 15, UC Santa Cruz’s Humanities Division will host a digital and print exhibit honoring French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist and philosopher Albert Camus.
The exhibit will be held in Humanities 2, room 259, near Cowell and Stevenson Colleges. The exhibit will incorporate various elements from print, audio and video, as well as QR code technology, or quick response code, a special two-dimensional barcode that has become popular among smartphone users.
“One of the most interesting features of the exhibit is that it is both a physical world and virtual world exhibit,” said dean of humanities William Ladusaw. “The physical part is compact, with panels on different aspects of [Albert Camus’] life. But the panels are connected via QR codes to the cyber parts of the exhibit. People will be able to interact with the exhibit through their mobile devices, in a variety of languages. Since the same exhibit is being mounted at several points around the world, it should create a cosmopolitan community of participants.”
Albert Camus, who lived from 1913 to 1960, claimed that there was a purpose and a point of life, however it would be “humanly impossible” rather than “logically impossible” to uncover it. This idea has extensively contributed to the philosophy of absurdism, which is the idea that any efforts by humanity to find inherent meaning in life will ultimately fail. Conversely, Camus opposed nihilism — the belief that all life is pointless and human values and conventions are worthless — and existentialism, the idea that the universe and all existence has no purpose.
The exhibit contains several informational QR codes that will enable visitors to chronologically explore the life of Albert Camus and how his ideologies formed. These codes will link visitors to over 100 images and countless videos, audio recordings, speeches, manuscript pages and articles Camus wrote during WWII for an underground paper.
“I’m excited for this exhibit,” said second-year Oscar Sanchez. “Camus was influential to … absurdism, which is the human tendency to find meaning in life and the incapability to find it.”
UCSC was one of 500 venues to be exclusively selected for the Albert Camus Exhibit tour, thanks to the representatives of the Alliance Française of Silicon Valley, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the knowledge of French and Francophone culture.
“The Alliance Française, Silicon Valley is responsible for managing the exhibit in Silicon Valley, which includes Santa Cruz county,” said board member of Alliance Française Douglas Hull. “We have been working with the producer, the Institut Français for three months, acting as broker for the exhibit, adapting it to this market, preparing the artwork and the documentation, and scheduling its placement. We made the decision early to present it to colleges first, museums second, then to large law firms and finally to corporations.”
The exhibit plans to visit Stanford University as well as the Santa Clara University.
“There are many threads that run through [Camus’] career that I think will engage people with many interests,” Ladusaw said, “Camus’ life spanned a tumultuous period of the 20th century and a complex trans-Mediterranean cultural and political geography. Learning about his life and writings is thought-provoking in many ways relevant to contemporary issues.”
This exhibit is free and open to the public Oct. 15 through Nov. 14, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m in Humanities 2, room 259.