Below, the soon-to-be iconic view from the 94th floor observation deck at the newly opened Shanghai World Financial Center, taken last night.
Full-access to the three observation decks is a pricey RMB 150 (more than the cost of a trip to the Empire State Building’s outdoor deck!), and perhaps – in recognition of that fact – the SWFC’s owners made the decision that they needed to offer a little something extra for visitors. Specifically: a two meter high mock-up of the SWFC that rotates 600 times per minute while flying turtles circle it in a darkened room …
That is to say, they decided to offer vistors Toshio Iwai’s “Tower of Light.” Below, a photo of this wonder taken from the SWFC Observatory Media Art brochure available to visitors:
Now, I wouldn’t bother blogging about this particular artwork but for the fact that it is an involuntary part of any SWFC observation deck visit. Want to see the view? First, you must watch the Tower of Light spin for five minutes.
The drill goes like this. After purchasing tickets visitors are ushered into a waiting room where they wait behind stanchions for their opportunity to ride the “Light Speed Elevator” to the 94th floor. However, when the moment finally arrives (the lines are long), they are instead led through a door marked “Pre-Show,” and into a round, black room, dimly lit, roughly the size of a king-sized prison cell. And at the center of the room is a glass tube that contains a two-meter high mock-up of the SWFC.
The doors are closed, the lights dim … and the SWFC begins to spin under purple light. As a B-grade sci-fi soundtrack plays, the glass tube turns purple and the SWFC begins to glow. And then a flock of flying turtles begins to fly in circles around it. For five minutes. And you can’t leave.
I’m not sure why nobody was bowing down to the thing, but surely I wasn’t the only person in the room who felt the sudden need to pay proper respects to the glowing, spinning God of Shanghai Real Estate. I’d be shocked if, during its first week of operation, somebody didn’t throw coins at it.
Anyway, at the conclusion of the black mass show, the doors are opened and visitors are ushered into the Light Speed Elevators.
[Note: In my experience, photos aren't allowed inside of most of the world's great sacred spaces. So, appropriately, they aren't allowed inside of Tower of Light.]