Last month I had an opportunity to visit Shanghai, China for the Learning 2.010 conference. I was able to stay a couple of extra days and attend the 2010 World Expo, and over those days spent 16 hours visiting the “pavilions” of ten different countries and the United Nations. I’ve wanted to share some photos, videos and reflections about those experiences, so tonight I’m starting by sharing a bit about my visit to the Australian pavilion. I’ve only spent a few hours in the Sydney airport, to date, enroute to New Zealand, so this visit to the World Expo gave me a chance to obtain some insights into Australian history and culture I hadn’t experienced previously. You can learn more on the official website of the Australian Shanghai 2010 World Expo Pavilion: www.australianpavilion.com.
Shanghai last month for the expo was pretty hot and humid. Like many other popular pavilions, lines to get into the Australian pavilion were long. I estimate I waited about thirty minutes to get in.
The Australian pavilion is a massive structure, and was designed (I’m guessing) to provide a geographic reminder of the striking geography of the land. It reminded me of Ayers Rock, or Uluru.
As you enter the pavilion, visitors walk up a winding ramp which eventually leads into a large auditorium. The first artwork shown depicts the encounter of Western / European explorers and settlers with Australian native people. This reminded me of Jane Yolen’s children’s picture book, “Encounter,” which is a Native American view of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Western Hemisphere.
Successive diaoramas used the same type of artistic sculpture to portray significant events in the history of Australia since its settlement by Europeans. I took each of these photos with Pano, which “stiched” together several images on my iPhone on the fly. In addition to being part of my Shanghai World Expo Day 2 Flickr set, these images are also included in my comprehensive Pano Flickr set which now includes over 175 photos.
Designers of the Australian pavilion did a wonderful job helping connect the primarily Chinese and Mandarin-speaking visitors to the similarities as well as differences between Australia and China. This display compared land area: China is represented by the large circle on the left, Australia on the right.
The adjacent display compared population size: China’s population is shown as the more numerous darker fish, Australia by the lighter fish which are fewer in number.
My favorite part of the Australian pavilion were these photographic murals. In so many pavilions of the world expo, visitors were treated to case studies in visual literacy and visual communication. This was a perfect case in point. Designers did a GREAT job conveying the diversity, warmth, energy and creativity of the Australian people in this composited wall mural.
Just before entering the main auditorium in the Australian pavilion, this documentary entitled, “Sisters” was shown VERY creatively on the wall of the ramp. This told the story of both Chinese and Australian women and the ways in which they contribute to their families, communities and nations. This was a beautiful, short video piece.
The entire “Sisters” documentary is available on the official Australian Shanghai World Expo 2010 website, as separate video clips.
Last of all, visitors to the Australian pavilion were treated to an AMAZING multimedia show in a large auditorium. Since this video clip is 7.5 minutes long and Flickr limits videos to just 90 seconds, I uploaded the following to YouTube. Designers played on the idea of dreams, being connected to others and to ideas no matter where you lived, and the contributions which young people can and ARE making to the world to make it a better place. This was very inspiring and VERY well made! Like EVERY video shown at the Expo which I saw, with the exception of those in the United States’ pavilion, this video was in Chinese with English subtitles.
Australia was just one of eleven pavilions I visited last month at the Shanghai World Expo. In upcoming days I’ll continue to share media as well as reflections about my sixteen hours at the expo. Hopefully some day, I’ll be able to travel to Australia “in person” and see this wonderful country for myself!
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