The TV you can only watch when you're smiling

Smile TV uses facial recognition software to observe your expression while you watch -- and will only play content if you smile.

David Hedberg

Artist David Hedberg wants to flip the television-viewer relationship on its head. Rather than the viewer smiling in response to content they might see on the screen, Smile TV responds to the viewer's smile -- only continuing to play if the viewer is wearing the appropriate facial expression.

The piece consists of a TV, which plays a series of silly, light-hearted clips -- wrestling matches, animal videos, kung-fu films and a sequence from The Sound of Music. Hidden in the base of the unit, behind the Smile TV logo, is a camera, which observes the observer. When the smile slips from the viewer's face, the screen dissolves into static.

"Bad reception used to be associated with the poor technical performance of an antenna. Just a decade ago it was much clearer who dictates the information which we absorb. Now, with content widely accessible the question is no longer if we can receive but if we are receptive," Hedberg explained on his website.

"By expressing that we like something, we have very much become antennas ourselves -- transmitting the content on to somebody else. This TV installation elaborates with facial recognition technology and a last-decade TV set to re-consider viewers' engagement and how content is accessed. It only works if we smile."

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