ISIE is a recently established global interdisciplinary network of researchers interested in the design, promotion, reception, and consequence of the world’s fairs and expositions held since 1851. Though rooted in the history of architecture, science, diplomacy, art, and technology, ISIE’s members hail from many disciplines and the organization welcomes all those interested in exploring the many intersecting aspects of international expositions. ISIE aims to facilitate both scholarly and popular understandings of the significance of these global events that serve as mirrors of concurrent (both real and visionary) political, cultural, and technological conditions of the times in which they are held.
Since the first World Exposition — the Great Exhibition of 1851 — these events have had one unexpected, even fatal, flaw: organizational amnesia. Once an expo turns out its lights and closes the gates to its fairgrounds for the last time, few participating countries hold onto their commissioners, designers, and staff. In short, they wipe their collective memory clean. When these countries begin planning pavilions and exhibits for the next World Expos, they often find themselves reinventing the proverbial wheel. This frequently results in designs that are ambitious in concept, sumptuous on paper — but lackluster in execution.
The 2023 ISIE symposium will bring scholars, professionals, and enthusiasts together to learn from the past and to generate new ideas and practices relating to the design of future international expositions. Day one of our two-day symposium will focus on lessons learned from earlier fairs. Day two will feature presentations from invited participants and explore potential lessons learned from the most recent fair, Expo 2020 in Dubai. Another panel will highlight the work of experts in fields and methods related to expo design in the 21st century such as security, wayfaring practices, crowd control, and accessibility. The conference will then delve into insights from representatives of Expo 2025 and of bids for Expo 2027 and Expo 2030.
Organizers envision three sessions of academic papers on day one that will focus on the designs and design practices of past expositions that offer lessons to designers today. Examples of potential topics include developments in building materials, advances in display techniques, innovative systems for moving people and goods into and throughout various exposition grounds, and successful procedures for the reuse of fair pavilions and sites.
ISIE’s aim is for participants to leave the symposium with new understandings and insights related to best practices in exposition design that can then be applied to future fairs. Accordingly, the symposium will include roundtable events focused on the topic of exposition design and offer opportunities to informally socialize and meet others with related interests. Organizers also invite those interested in the study of world’s fairs to become involved in the future development of ISIE and help create a seed bank of ideas related to exposition history and design.
To submit a proposal for Day 1 of the symposium, please send a 250-300 word abstract and a 2-page CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 November 2022. Please note that you must be registered for the symposium by 28 February 2023 to present at the event.
Deadline for paper proposals: 30 November 2022.
Notification of acceptance: 15 January 2023.
Symposium registration deadline for participants: 28 February 2023.
More information can be found here.