Don't make fun of the Fair
There's something distinctly hauntological, in the Ghost Box sense, about a World's Fair or an Expo. These festivals of temporary architecture and optimistic science and technology which would be dismantled almost straight away. One of the fun things about Kraftwerk breaking an 8 year silence in 1999 with a jingle for Expo 2000 was how utterly Kraftwerkian an expo is, somewhere that the future can be browsed through with an air of Apollonian calm, like a three-dimensional edition of Tomorrow's World.
Doubtless Walter Benjamin would have made great play of these almost ethereal events, each marking a massive technological-aesthetic advance that would only become clear later on: starting with the Crystal Palace in 1851 (a pivotal moment in the ushering in of the society of the spectacle, according to Debord), the Melnikov and Le Corbusier pavilions in Paris in 1925 the capsules of Moshe Safdie in 1967, Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes. But as the 20th century society's piece implies, the most perversely utopian expo would have to be the 1958 Cold War one, not least for the bizarre nuclear optimism of the Atomium*, but also for the USSR's Khrushchevite return to Modernism, and the flayed form of Corbusier and Xenakis' Philips Pavilion...the imminence of nuclear destruction leading to a last flourish of improbable design. What the Millennium Dome perhaps could have been, but for Blaritite idiocy and general Brit mocking of anything out of the mundane...
Does anyone know if these things even still happen? I assume there's some equivalent in Shanghai or somewhere...?
* I visited this place a few years ago, and the inside had been turned into an exhibit by famous minimalist eccentric Charlemagne Palestine, who had filled it with his totemic cuddly toys, and left drones running through each rung of the escalators. There's definitely something Benjaminian about that kind of fetishising of mass produced objects, though also rather disturbingly infantilist. All this stuff was frequently naive, but unlike now it was never childish.