The Shanghai Expo of 1 may – 31 October 2010 was themed Better City-Better Life and was to showcase the Chinese city’s place in the world of the future and its place in the 21st century as one of the world’s greatest cities. It was the largest fair up to that date and attracted hundreds of thousands of exhibitors and millions of visitors.
The Magic Box
The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) was one of the exhibitors, with one of the most visited attractions, a visually futuristic architectural production. It was dubbed the Magic Box and was a creation by Atelier Brückner of Stuttgart, Germany, who was commissioned by the SGCC to present the ideation of SGCC in this futuristic world.
The Magic Box was at the pulsating center of the state pavilion with its striking media-rich vividness. Being inside the Magic Box is like taking a power journey from the hinterlands of China to the core, and back, capturing the perfect representation of SGCC’s role in creating the city of the future.
Videos: Inside the Magix Box
How was it made?
The Magic Box was cube-shaped with inside dimensions of 14.90 x 14.90 x 12.90 meters. The inner walls were encrusted with full-range RGB LED lights, with a pixel pitch of 8mm and displays on all six sides. There was a glass bridge set at 3 meters above the floor for visitors to walk on from wall to wall. The installation could host 250 people at the same time.
The immersive audio was created using a custom 21.2 channel sound system called Acousmatic Room Orchestration System. The sound system was controlled by Insynergie 24 audio server player, with 21 speakers and two sub-woofers.
The film lasted for approximately 7min, and contained the following chapters:
- Entrance and exit: Energy–grid in black and white.
- Origins of energy (earth, water, wind).
- Transportation of energy (power tower, the journey of electricity from eastern China to western China).
- View on the city of the future (improvement of the quality of living through electricity), designed in a dreamlike surrealistically environment.
- Back to the energy–grid vanishing into the universe: All energy has its origin in the universe.
How did visitors feel inside the Magic Box?
Visitors got a 7-minute audiovisual experience that was set in 5 chapters. These chapters traced the journey of energy generation to consumption. It focused on green energy and the beauty of nature in power generation, and its transmission to cities across the breadth and width of china. It also showed the role of the grid in people’s lives in the future; business, work, entertainment, and urban living.
To the visitor, the Magic Box seemed suspended in the pavilion, like the core of a nuclear reactor, only it is more striking in color. It pulsated such that there was a feeling that there is power being generated from the core and spreading to the whole building. The visitor was enclosed on all sides by a grid of LED lights with visually stunning lighting effects creating an emotionally charged experience and spatial motion. There was an illusion of being in a borderless world; instead of the physical LEDs. The visitor got a glimpse of a virtual world of the future.