The public discovers how action together brings joy and friendship


“Be active!” – the German pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015 challenges visitors to be active themselves. All along their walk through the “Fields of Ideas”, Germany’s credo at this year’s World Exposition, they will find interactive stations to join in. With the “SeedBoard”, a mobile interaction field, each visitor is given a personal exposition guide with which he or she can steer the exhibits and call for deeper media content depending on personal interest. The visitor experiences in a playful, surprising and whimsical way what German people from science, politics, research and society at large are already doing in the sense of the Expo motto “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.


“We realised at past world expositions that visitors are particularly enthusiastic about a pavilion where they can do things themselves while they walk around, like picking something up, touching it, moving it. So we wanted to offer something unusual again in Milan that people will remember,” is how Dietmar Schmitz, Commissioner General of the German Pavilion and Head of the Division for Trade Fair Policy and Expo Participation at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, explains the German approach. “So there is going to be a highlight again in the ‘Fields of Ideas’ with the show at the end of the pavilion visit.”


A new, interesting and surprising perspective will be revealed to visitors in the ten-minute show. They will see Germany from the eyes of bees and fly with them over the land. In the centre of a round room, two musicians, the “BeeJs”, accompany visitors live through this show.


While work is progressing apace in Italy and the pavilion takes shape, guitarist and beatboxer have been rehearsing for weeks in a former film studio in Ludwigsburg for their gig as “BeeJs”. Their job in Milan will be to encourage visitors to generate sounds and natural noises with their hands, voices and the “SeedBoard”. “In this way the public itself creates the rousing accord accompanying a trip through Germany full of pictures, sounds and enthralling moments, Peter Redin explains the idea behind the show he has produced under the motto “Be active”. As Creative Director at Milla & Partner, he and his team are responsible for content conceptualisation of the German Pavilion. The bees’ flight takes the visitor over fields and orchards into the city, past places and people busy producing and distributing food. The boss of the Stuttgart agency is convinced: “Exciting and humorous situations take surprising twists and turns in this shared interaction with the visitor and make the German Pavilion’s motto “Be active” impressively tangible. The high degree of interaction intends to show every visitor that he or she can actively join in shaping the future and that action together brings joy and friendship.


Two large bee eyes animated by wire cables and powered by winches steering two high-wire robots will form the projection in Milan. They will fly through the room, so to speak, over the visitors’ heads. What might sound simple does in fact involve intricate engineering and scientific know-how. So not only is the artistic performance being rehearsed in Ludwigsburg, but the technology needed for it is also being set up and tested – for the time being with only one bee eye. The University of Stuttgart is playing a decisive role. The University’s Institute of Engineering and Computational Mechanics (ITM) developed the software for programming the movements of the two high-wire robots. This first defines the flight path of the eyes and their perspective and glance direction in the room.


The Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools (ISW) developed the control software for the two high-wire robots, each suspended on eight wire cables and able to move and turn around the room. This software translates the previously programmed flight curves and alignment of the eyes into specific movements produced when the robots shorten or elongate the wires depending on the desired movement. The speed of each wire cable must also be variable – matching the bee’s flight dramaturgy. This was a complex research and development production and which Professor Dr. Wolfram Ressel, Vice-Chancellor of Stuttgart University, is proud of. “The University of Stuttgart has expanded proven industrial technology to meet exceptional requirements by combining current research knowledge. Without our two software developments, it would probably not have been possible to realise the idea with the bee eyes in the show. We are delighted that after our success with the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the University of Stuttgart is again involved as exclusive research partner on the German Pavilion at the World Exposition 2015 in Milan.”


Around 16,000 people will be able to experience the exposition and the live show in the “Fields of Ideas” every day. Between 7,500 and 10,000 shows are planned for time until the Expo ends, and as many as three million people will by then have seen through the eyes of bees that Germany is a vibrant, fertile landscape full of ideas and how important appreciative dealing with nature is for our nutrition in future.


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