Grey Room

Multimedia Environments and Security Operations: Expo ‘70 as a Laboratory of Governance

Yuriko Furuhata

Control rooms featured in the design journal Dezain, March 1970.


Expo ‘70 in Osaka is often noted as one of the first significant efforts to integrate computation technologies and the principles of cybernetic control systems in the history of modern architecture, and is largely synonymous with the practice of Arata Isozaki. Furuhata deepens our understanding of this complex spectacle as a technical, political and aesthetic conflation of two multimedia logics—immersion and surveillance—as part of a sustained laboratory experiment devised to perfect networked systems of governance of a future simulated city. Tracing the career trajectories of architect-bureaucrats from the Tange Lab at the University of Tokyo to the Japanese Economic Planning Agency and Ministry of Construction, and explicating the public-private corporate bodies entrusted with designing the security systems for the Expo, Furuhata demonstrates that the concept of “environment” at work in Japanese architecture and governance in the 1960s served as a crucial precedent for more recent applications of simulation and surveillance in Japan and elsewhere.