An Expo report through the youthful eyes of two who have made Italian Studies a focus of their education and development. Pirelli invited a physicist and a mathematician to come tell the story of the Milan Expo, specifically Miloš Nikolić (Montenegro) and Gregory A. Kufera (USA), two brilliant students at Princeton who went on a “hunt for innovation” through the various pavilions, documenting their adventure with creative photos, videos and commentary, which they then compiled into a story told in a new format.
This resulted in WeFeedTheFuture, a project and a web site that Pirelli created in order to offer up a unique new view on Expo Milan 2015. “Innovation is the discontinuity between present and future, and it’s our responsibility to spread it” said Gregory A. Kufera.
A story to tell
Everything that Pirelli’s two explorers saw was arranged into four strands— Innovation, Sustainability, Emotions, and Art & Culture—for a stimulating user experience that leaves you free to discover and to be amazed. Both text and images are distributed across a virtual globe that centres around innovation, which is always the case in the day-to-day workings of Pirelli.
“To aspire to overcome the limits of our present ideas. This is innovation” said Miloš, who, together with Gregory, assigned to each continent both articles and images, images often created using state of the art techniques, like the light field camera used in Pavilion Zero, as they take us on a journey to discover some of the best, most original features of Expo 2015. The style of each video and each image gallery has been specifically chosen to bring out the unique characteristics of each of the various pavilions. Point of view, time-lapse photography, motion graphics, 360° interactive video, photo merging, video infographics, infrared photography, and much more. The common denominator? Curiosity and experimentation.
The beginning of a voyage
The journey begins in Pavilion Zero with a reflection on Africa, where, as our two students observe, “Many enterprising minds in Africa […] have taken up this challenge of fighting malnutrition, and are finding new solutions to restore the continent to its former prosperity.” We continue on to Europe, where the United Kingdom Pavilion focuses on the importance of bees to our ecosystem. “Innovation is at the heart of the solutions the Expo Milano 2015 seeks to inspire. Every country is well aware that they need to nurture scientific research in order to drive the food industry towards more sustainable and efficient production. The creators of the United Kingdom pavilion sharpened their scope to describe one tiny but important fragment of their scientific research, and created a presentation that is easily approachable, even for the youngest of visitors,” said our young reporters.
It is the China Pavilion that best characterises innovation in Asia, particularly with the country’s innovative solutions for development in agriculture. “At the Chinese pavilion, one can witness the importance of the tradition of food production and its constant evolution throughout time. […] The Chinese experience is a precious contribution to the discussion around Expo Milano 2015’s theme.”
For America, the United States pavilion gives us “one of the largest vertical farms at Expo Milano 2015, an attempt to encourage the use of vertical gardens in big cities of North America and the world”.
What can be done
Miloš and Gregory are very pragmatic throughout their journey. Sustainability is not an independent variable. Here, again, we see Africa in the lead with a particular emphasis on World Access to Modern Energy (WAME), an association working to eliminate inequality in the use of “modern energy” so that everyone can have access to electricity. For Europe, the two students find that the Austria pavilion best embodies the issue of sustainability through its focus on air as the primary source of human nourishment. “[T]he forest in the pavilion provides enough oxygen to sustain 1,800 people every hour. This pavilion as a whole is just a prototype of sustainable technology.”
Focusing on the seeds of the future industry to protect the planet is the central idea underlying industrial policy in Malaysia, and the seed, symbolising growth, is the recurring theme throughout the pavilion, which features a path through the four seeds of the country’s rain forest. The exterior of the exhibit is constructed of innovative laminated timber, or “glulam”, made with local, sustainable materials. After Expo Milan 2015,the structure will be dismantled and erected again in Malaysia.
Food sustainability in the Americas is best exemplified in the Brazil pavilion. “The innovative construction of the Brazil pavilion, while interesting from a visual perspective, also demonstrates inventive architectural techniques that reflect the sustainability solutions Brazil showcases in its pavilion” the two students conclude.
Another way of acting
Respect for and the promotion of diversity are distinctive traits of the sphere of Emotions. Here, Miloš and Gregory turn their attention to Slow Food, the international non-profit association engaged in protecting culinary diversity around the world while respecting the local environment, ecosystem, and traditions.
“Only by committing to find points of strength in difference, our concrete and innovative solution be found for our planet’s main problems” they say.
The architectures of ideas
Expo Milan 2015 is also about art and culture. “The United Arab Emirates pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 is a striking, impressive structure, whose entrance is framed by twelve meter high winding walls of sand. The undulating vertical dunes of these walls invite visitors into the Emirates.”
In Europe, even a small nation like Montenegro reveals great culture. “[The pavilion] features an elegant combination of ropes and mirrors that reflect the charming Montenegrin countryside,” say our two entranced reporters.
Aesthetic design and diversity are features of the Far East. The three Asian pavilions chose wooden structures, each unique in their own way, to represent their respective cultures in Vietnam, Thailand and Japan.
New media art, on the other hand, is to be found in the Republic of Korea. In order to effectively convey their theme “You are what you eat”, they use various multimedia techniques along with a minimalist aesthetic to engage the visitor in empathetic and emotional ways. Video is the medium most used, with over a hundred images being projected throughout the exhibit. The performance video “Symphony of Food” is an excellent example of projection mapping.
Pirelli, too, has always been an organisation fed by culture, and the Pirelli Foundation works to conserve over a century of the group’s culture of enterprise. Today, the company’s commitment can also be seen in the extraordinary success of exhibits at HangarBicocca, the space for contemporary art that is managed and supported by Pirelli.