Expo through a fake Holga lens

The Holga camera was designed and first sold in China in 1981. Here 29 years later Shanghai EXPO 2010 is aiming to be the greatest world fair in visitors, amount of pavilions, size, etc. Maybe these two things at first seem very distant from each other, but anyway I will argue that they are oh so similar. And so hollow. To spice up this post, with local tradition, I am photoshopping my 21 megapixel digital photos to imitate good old analogue Holga prints. My images are oh so fake!

To start of my comparison the first similarity between the two is that both are strongly developed to satisfy the masses. Where the Holga camera is developed as an inexpensive option for the mass market, the expo is probably not so inexpensive, but highly serves a similar target group. Only the mass market is in this case chosen to serve Expo, in terms of reaching a satisfying high visitor number.

The distortion of the image quality of the Holga camera became a beloved entertaining element within photography and gained cult popularity. An unintended side-effect that proved its quality through its surrealistic representation of the world.

I will not argue that the Expo is very surreal, however the Expo 2010 is very focused on entertaining 70 million visitors on the cost of experimental architectural practice. Today I only focus on the country pavilions. Very few country pavilions are in fact displaying great new architectural qualities and almost no one relate to the underlying sustainability focus of “Better City, Better Life”.

Overall the expo seems to have been very inspired by Disneyland. Overall it is treated more as an amusement park than and educational world fair. I am not arguing whether this is good or bad. In the general Chinese planning and preparation I guess it is alright to have turned towards an event entertaining the masses, since the astonishing amount of visitors probably find more amusement of colorful folklore and souvenirs, than in technical details. However I am quite disappointed with the lack of architectural quality in many of the country pavilions, who seems to purposely have been built only as a tourist office for the respective countries.

Therefore my midterm evaluation of Expo 2010 is that it is a colorful distorted representation of architectural practice. Very low actual quality but nevertheless entertaining and worth revisiting. You will not get bored. I am looking forward to having a better look at the themed pavilions and the “best urban practices area” and hopefully I will have my longing for new architectural ideas and processes satisfied. And of course I need to clarify that the British pavilion does not fit in this post’s evaluation, as it is spectacular and aesthetically very impressive but also very innovative.

~ by tw on July 18, 2010.

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