Gearing Up for the World Expo 2010
March 15, 2010 10:15 AM   Subscribe

The 2010 World Expo starts on May 1st, and The Big Picture has documented the Shanghai's preparations for the event. Highlights include the Seed Cathedral, covered in 60,000 thin acrylic rods that will sway in the breeze; the Sunny Valley, a structure that will harness sunlight for power and rain to water nearby green areas, Joy Street, a Dr. Seussian part of the Dutch Pavillion, and an assortment of other engineering marvels. More information about the Expo available at the World Expo Blog.

Unfortunately, some people were forced to leave their homes to make room for the Expo. The Shanghai government says that the vast majority of the former residents signed relocation contracts to compensate them for relocating.
posted by JDHarper (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm always surprised to find they still have World's Fairs every year.
posted by jackflaps at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2010

I was just looking at those…damn that Seed Cathedral is 10 tons of awesome.
posted by ShawnString at 10:32 AM on March 15, 2010

The Sunny Valley looks like it was photoshopped into those pictures. It must be quite something to see it in person.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:48 AM on March 15, 2010

There is something about the Seed Cathedral that really bothers me. I think it looks like a porcupine.
posted by sperose at 11:03 AM on March 15, 2010

I personally think the seed cathedral is TEH UGGS.

There was a story on NPR a week or so ago about how there's an entire section of the thing that's all "eco friendly" or whatever, but it will exist for X months and then be ripped apart and thrown away.

And of course the requisite china outrage about relocating people and hurting people and making them do things against their will.
posted by TomMelee at 11:36 AM on March 15, 2010

fnark :) I was 'prepping' for this FPP - but here's my addition - the Kirnu
posted by infini at 11:40 AM on March 15, 2010

Wait, wait. Is there no Kraftwerk tie-in, like there was for Expo2000?
posted by smcdow at 11:41 AM on March 15, 2010

Nice to know that the spirit of Monty Python lives on in the UK
posted by Cranberry at 12:19 PM on March 15, 2010

but it will exist for X months and then be ripped apart and thrown away.

I'm still bitter about the fate of the Montreal Expos.
posted by srboisvert at 12:36 PM on March 15, 2010

So did the US and up building a pavilion? Apparently, we couldn't afford it and Hilary Clinton has been stumping industry like crazy to get it funded. Ah wait, here's a link to the official page. Doesn't say if it's actually been built.
posted by misterpatrick at 12:47 PM on March 15, 2010

The animation of the US building looks like an aircraft carrier with a pontoon.
posted by Cranberry at 12:52 PM on March 15, 2010

I freaking love the Seed Cathedral. In fact all of China's new architecture makes me really jealous (especially their National Center for the Performing Arts).
posted by mullingitover at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2010

Wait, wait. Is there no Kraftwerk tie-in, like there was for Expo2000 ?

Wasn't that their remix of the jingle, though? As I recall, the original jingle was just a vocoded voice saying "EXPOOOO TWO THOOOOUSAND", and there was some controversy that Kraftwerk got paid some ridiculous amount to make just that.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:40 PM on March 15, 2010

covered in 60,000 thin acrylic rods that will sway in the breeze

... incinerating random passers-by when the sun is out.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:03 PM on March 15, 2010


Well, it was a bit more than just that. But what would you expect for $140,000?
posted by smcdow at 7:56 PM on March 15, 2010

Shanghai-based freelance journalist Adam Minter has been covering the debacle behind the scenes of the US pavilion on his weblog and in some reputable publications.
posted by msittig at 8:21 PM on March 15, 2010

jackflaps: "I'm always surprised to find they still have World's Fairs every year."

Most folks are; even as the world's fairs shifted their primary focus from introducing new technologies/products/innovations to cultural exchange (and the world's technology connected us but didn't bind us so closely together), they held a much bigger sway on people's imaginations. The Crystal Palace, Chicago, Paris, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, New York ... these were big news. A product that was introduced at a world's fair - be it a Ferris Wheel or a television (which existed before, but at the 1939 Fair RCA would put *you* on television which blew the minds of people who couldn't afford a television then, but who then really aspired to own one) or Dr. Pepper - had extra cachet and was good business. You went to a world's fair to see untold new and different people and places and things that you could never have imagined.

As the century rolled on, the problem was: the world was getting smaller, information mechanisms were cheaper and delivered information (and ads and news and innovations) quickly and easily. There'd always been a touch of nationalism and national/regional self-promotion at the fairs - both of the bragging host variety and of the "Let us (re)-introduce ourselves" guest variety that countries would use to try and redefine themselves to the nation hosting the fair and to the world. There was also a fair amount of the Let's show this exotic other to marvel at the mysterious "other". Imagine! Pygmies! Dancing Balinese Girls. Gypsy Mystics!

Starting in 1968, with the San Antonio World's Fair ("HemisFair") which was intended to show of Texas and Central America, and to celebrate the antiquity of San Antonio, yet poised to the future -- you can see the transition from the cultural exchange/amazing new things focus to a focus that is more in line with the modern focus on regional and national re-branding. This really hit its stride in Barcelona in the early 90s where Spain used the World's Fair to say "Hello this is exciting Modern Spain. You should be here." And then followed up with the Olympics. It was essentially a relaunch and reinforcement of their brand.

No one goes to World's Fairs any more to learn about the new and the different; Movies, then TV, then advertising run amuck, and the Internet have variously killed the efficacy of those roles. Advertising and Public Relations concerns have taken over because they assert, probably rightly, that that is where the value is. The problem is that if you look at the World's Fairs in America that captured people's attention - particularly the New York and Chicago ones - they had an interesting Futuristic/Utopian ideal about them that attracted people and helped them to envision the marvelous hopeful future in addition to introducing them to marvels they'd only read about at best. Those speculative futures seem to have passed out of favor (or don't have enough translatable immediate value to be funded) - in favor of the Marvelous Now. I don't think it's a coincidence that visitor counts and interest have been dropping at world's fairs over the past forty years.

The Shanghai World's Fair seems very much in this modern strain of "Look again and see Modern Us! We're Fabulous!" There are still innovations to introduce and marvels to behold, but the focus is All. About. China's. Wonderfulness.
posted by julen at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

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