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Press release

Expo.02 in Bienne - Swisscom: The ?Empire of Silence? is ready

19 March 2002

"Empire of Silence" is the name given to the Swisscom pavilion located on the Bienne arteplage. The 20-minute adventure features a world reigned over by the fascinating but mysterious power of silence from whose clutches visitors can only escape with assistance from communications rebels. Swisscom's aim is to demonstrate the importance of interpersonal communication.

"It´s worth paying a visit to the Bienne arteplage just to see the Empire of Silence pavilion," say a fully convinced Jens Alder, CEO of Swisscom. Martin Heller, artistic director of Expo.02, is equally enthusiastic: "I´ve never seen an exhibition like this before."
With barely two months to go before Expo.02 opens its doors the "Empire of Silence" is just about ready. The pavilion, approximately 1,000 m² in size and situated in the revamped harbour area of Bienne, looks like a haunted house: a black cube shrouded in mesh net. In front, a 40-meter-long hoarding with a large interactive screen features 100 coloured eyes gazing down at the spectators. In groups of 66 persons, visitors will experience the "Empire of Silence" which is arranged in four sections, each featuring an impressive backdrop.
Swisscom was inspired by the experience of French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. Following a stroke which left him completely paralysed (locked-in syndrome), Bauby learned to communicate by blinking his left eyelid. In this way he dictated his book, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" but died shortly before it was published in 1997.

Swisscom supports Expo.02

Construction of the Empire of Silence cost CHF 12 million, and the day-to-day operation during Expo will cost an additional CHF 3 million. Approximately 600 Swisscom employees will each be volunteering eight days of their time to make sure everything runs smoothly in Bienne. Swisscom has also contributed CHF 6 million as an official partner of the national exhibition, and is responsible for equipping all arteplages with a telecommunications infrastructure.


Swisscom Mobile is supporting the 16 telesymphony performances on the mobile Jura arteplage. Visitors to this ringtone concert will actually take part with their mobile phones. Swisscom Mobile will be equipping the mobile arteplage ship with a special network infrastructure for this telesymphony and issuing a pre-programmed mobile to members of the audience for the duration of the concert.

Berne, 19 March 2002


Swisscom AG
Media Relations
3050 Bern