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.