Expo 98, the latest world's fair, was held from May to September in Lisbon, Portugal, and the $1.7 billion spent on work on the city will make its mark on this European capital just as the Eiffel Tower left its mark on Paris. More than 145 countries took part, and buildings housing the event occupied 840 acres along the banks of the Tago, on which four of the site's 37 restaurants floated. The fair's theme was "The Oceans: A Heritage for the Future"--no casual choice, as 500 years ago Vasco da Gama reached the Indies after sailing from Lisbon, opening the road to Portugal's empire.

The Italian pavilion, which had a naval theme, was designed by architect Luigi Sturchio, and a multimedia system supplied by specialist Turin communications service firm Euphon (which has a particularly high profile in large-format video projection in Italy) was used to create the "virtual Italy" he projected. Two top industry figures were called in for lighting and projection: Pepi Morgia and Paolo Gualdi. Morgia designed the lighting, using more than 300 iGuzzini Illuminazione fixtures and a small but effective show rig.

In the main room, more than 200 Reflex recessed downlights accentuated the sweeping curves of the ceiling. In the center of the ceiling was an eye-catching 300-sq.-m (3,330 sq. ft.) screen. Gualdi's Le Grandi Immagini used three 5k PIGI xenon projectors from E/T/C Audiovisuel with double scrollers to project (with moving, layering, and crossfading effects) reproductions of some of Italy's most famous ceilings and statues, by artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini, Giotto, Guarini, and Vasari (pictured).

Lighting also played a key role in highlighting exhibits, including masterpieces by past masters and contemporary artists: works by Tintoretto and Brueghel, two 18th-century wooden globes, one of the oldest nautical maps in the world, and a portrait of Christopher Columbus by il Ghirlandaio. Six ETC profile spots were used to light tapestries, paintings, and an incredible dress/sculpture by the stylist Capucci, inspired by the colors of the sea, which encompassed 140 shades in 120 yards of fabric. The pavilion also included a trapezoidal screen showing a 35mm film, shot by Aurelio Grimaldi, also with an aquatic theme.

Videos about Italy's ports and marine culture were projected on two 8x2 41" 100Hz Toshiba cube rear-projection videowall columns and more than 50 other monitors. Twenty 42' ultra-flat Fujitsu plasma units showed sequences on how participating firms fit into the Expo's theme.

Two truss bars alongside the ceiling screen each held six High End Systems Studio Colors(R). These lit some of the exhibits and (in the pause between film runs) bathed the entire pavilion in blue light, with the refraction of the knurled aluminum flooring emphasizing a wonderful sea effect. Also, two sets of six ACLs created a fan effect on the film screen. Lights, films, and music were coordinated by a Compulite MLC desk with SMPTE interface.

Art, high tech, fashion, and fantasy proved a winning combination. Besides being named the best at Expo 98, Italy's pavilion will be dismantled and reassembled in its entirety as an attraction at EPCOT Center in Orlando from October 1999 to January 2000.