Shanghai Engages in Pavilion D-Escalation at Expo 2010 (World’s Fair)

Spend a bit of time poking your head into some of the 170-or-so Expo 2010 pavilions, and a few things become clear right away: few, if any of the national pavilions have programming that lives up to their architecture (hello, Russia); people are waiting hours in line to view eight minute videos that are destined to end up as in-house programming at hotel chains around the world (I’m looking at you, Singapore); and those countries too lazy to be truly different (see: truly different Hungary) are spending money on so-called 4D movie experiences. What is 4D? Basically, a 3D film with a few physical effects – say, some wind in your hair, some rain in your face, and a vibrating seat. Some call them “Ghetto Disney;” and others brings their umbrellas. Whatever you call them, though, just take a walk around Expo, and it’s hard to trip over yourself without landing on top of a movie theater that isn’t cueing large arrays of fans to filmed thunderstorms. A couple of examples, starting with the Chongqing pavilion:

And then the Oil pavilion (which, frankly, has the Expo’s only 4D experience that has an actual 3D film to accompany the water that it spits in the audience’s face):

So the question then arises: how, in an era when 3D is the sensory equivalent of a rotary phone, and 4D is as common as an iPhone, do you differentiate your multi-media experience? Well, if you’re Expo 2010’s host city, and in no mood to suffer fools, much less come in second or third place to anyone, you ratchet it up not one, but two notches and present the masses with a …

So what, precisely, happens in 6D? Does a multi-dimensional wormhole open into Shanghai’s opium trading past? I wish I could tell you, but the line has always been too long to justify exploring this physically challenging side of the Expo. For those who’d like to explore it without waiting in line, I sort of recommend the six-dimensional space wiki.


  1. Give Shanghai credit, they tried to one-up the other countries at least. Most of the pavilions I visited this week barely tried to impress their own countrymen much less do something better than others. Canada’s is a joke, by the way. So is the US.

  2. Just a quick clarification of “industry speak”. “3D” films have the “3D” element in the visual medium. “4D” refers to other sensory effects (vibration, water, smell, air movement, and temperature change) that work in concert with a film, whether the film is “2D” or “3D”. Many people assume that “4D” is beyond “3D”, and as such must incorporate the “3D” element. That is not necessarily true, as seem at the Expo and other facilities.

  3. The name of your blog is Shanghai Scrap and it’s scrap readers who made this blog. Ha ha. Throw us a bone and tell us what in the heck is happening with the new chinese mixed scrap regs or I’m going to have to recycle this blog right out of my rss.

  4. Coasterboy – Thanks for that. I was beginning to wonder!

    Copper Guy – I never forget my roots: I may have something on rule 21 next week, and if I do, I’ll run a post. But the best and most up-to-date info is going to be over at ISRI and the BIR.

  5. A narrow concentration on just scrap misserves the bulk of readers who like the broad range of comments from Catholicism to the Expo to preservation to – well, look at the categories.

  6. Airplanes are 6D vehicles: (1) up-down, (2) left-right, (3) forward-back, (4) yaw, (5) pitch, and (6) roll. So if you can do all those things, you can design a 6D environment which usually means these days a shooter videogame.

    4D CAD in architecture and design means something different from the way it’s being used at the Expo (which is surprising and misleading). 3D is the virtual environment. The 4th D is time. You can ride a 4D CAD forward and backward in time to create buildings today, virtual habitats from the past, or spaceships in the future.

    The use of physical effects for virtual worlds (including films, though they’re mostly only 2D or 2-1/2D — the illusion of 3D — at the Expo) dates back to the earliest pioneers of cinema, who for example used smoke and horn blasts to simulate a train pulling into a station. Motion platforms like those used in the USA Pavilion date back to the mid-1950s.

    What this has to do with scrap iron I’m not sure, but I’ll bet there will be a heck of a lot of it when the pavilions come down. Sustainability and reusability got short shrift in most of the designs. It’s like they never existed, except in brochures pitched to sponsors. “Be associated with sustainability! Show your concern for city life! Announce your newest products!” At least the Danes show off their clean water technology softly.

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