2010 World Photonics Expo Gwangju – VISITED
Well what do you know, I actually found myself in Gwangju with time to actually visit the light expo and it was really amazing! It was good in all the ways that it was supposed to be, and given that I happened to be there on a weekday afternoon, I was able to enjoy it without the busy crowd that might have been there in the evening or on a weekend. I’m sure it would have been better at night, but it was still quite entertaining in the daytime. The expo was divided into several different pavilions, so I will explain about each pavilion in the order I visited them. More details after the jump!
Solar Information Pavilion
The first place I visited was very close to the entrance. This pavilion showed mostly how solar power works. It also had some solar cells in action showing how light from the sun can be used to power just about anything, including flashlights… (wait a minute! That sounds really dumb!)
Well at first I thought that the exhibit was actually about the series of container boxes that were painted very colorfully on the outside. Maybe they were fluoroluminescent or something and at night they’d come alive. Not so, the actual exhibits were on the insides of these pavilions. What followed were exhibitions of citizens’ artwork using light. The most memorable of these was a room that appeared to have paintings in it, only these paintings moved, but so slightly that you wouldn’t notice unless you were staring at the painting for a very long time. My favorite was one of the Mona Lisa, only fat. Gradually she became thinner and thinner. Here’s a video!
Light Themed Multimedia Pavilion
Here I was able to see a cool 3D animated movie, Seed Light, that follows the same plot as any other Asian animated movie about robots. There’s a robot, then the enemy builds another robot. They fight. The good robot wins. This one was even cheesier as the good robot was defeated, (which for some reason made the driver unconscious as well). But then a little girl started crying and because of her tears and beautiful soul, the robot actually fixed itself and the driver also awoke from his defeat inspired coma. They then overcame all odds to defeat the evil robot and save the day, thanks to the tears of one little girl. Awww! Okay the plot might have been stupid, but something about 3D and Korean computer graphics and animation actually made it quite breathtaking. While I don’t expect it to win any Oscars, I think it was worth the 10 minute wait to see. They even had a life-sized model of the robot outside of the theater and it was way cool. If this expo were happening in America, that’d be the first thing that rabid college students would try to steal.
Ah yes, a government funded festival or fair wouldn’t be anything without the armed forces there to
abduct people inform people about how awesome professional military life is. And actually the air force did not disappoint. Here I experienced for the first time, night vision, and flight simulators. My friend also read the weather in front of a blue screen. In a photonics expo, I can understand the relevance of night vision, but blue screen is stretching it a little bit, and flight simulators don’t really have anything to do with it at all. Even so, that was really fun. I flew a fighter jet and chased the red blips on the screen. I shot a missile. It hit the target. Unfortunately the target was in a dive. I was too close to the ground before I noticed that it would probably be a great idea to pull up. I am sorry to the simulated rice farmer who’s house I crashed into.
Did you know that Gwangju is home to the first Korean person to travel into space? Yes, Lee So Yeon flew to the international space station aboard a Soviet made Soyuz rocket in 2008. This whole pavilion was dedicated to her mission and even housed the vehicle used to dock with the station and also go back to Earth. Lee So Yeon was actually quite a diligent person, having graduated from KAIST and being selected in Korea’s astronaut program. Originally the first Korean in space was to be someone else, but Lee was substituted at the last moment. What kind of rapid economic growth has Korea undergone when 50 years ago, Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world, whereas now, Korea has advanced to the point where it is sending people into space. Amazing!
Light Industry and Technology Pavilion and the City Pavilion
In here I actually saw the future; Smart refrigerators that know exactly what’s inside them, whether they are safe to eat, and what you need to buy. If you allow it, the refrigerator will automatically order food delivery to your house so that you’ll never be out of anything! I also saw a kitchen counter with a touchscreen computer on it that displayed recipes and could be wiped dry if it got dirty. Finally I saw that Gwangju is planning to build a monorail complete with touchscreen navigation in the seats. I hope the future is nice. I also saw examples of new lighting products such as light up sidewalk panels like in Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video!
Things I didn’t see but wished I had
Well first, since I didn’t go at night, I didn’t get to see the expo in all its unnaturally lit glory. From the internet pictures it looks quite amazing. Also there was an outdoor stage which each night featured a different popular Korean pop act. I’m kind of a fan of K-pop so it would have been nice to see that. All in all the expo was a lot of fun, and I’d love it if there were more events like this that can bring so many kind and warmhearted people together.