Smile Away – Grand Mutual Smiles

Everyone at VAST is very excited these days to be a part of a digital art installation called Grand Mutual Smiles.

Grand Mutual Smiles is a two-way interactive installation that communicates between two parties through the transmission of images of smiling faces.

Progressively captured pictures of smiling people are displayed on video screens at each installation site. The motivation is to encourage users to communicate across the internet in a non-verbal and humorous way, by smiling. Approaching the concept of the smile as a universal expression of joy, the project will present two sets of updating matrices of people’s faces at each of the destinations. Both Linz in Austria and Thimphu in Bhutan will therefore be connected by real-time updating “smile” boards.

There will be two “smile-boards” at each location, one representing the remote location and one representing the local location. Each smile board will be realized in practice by either a large LCD screen or a video projector.

Grand Mutual Smiles

This is how it works.

>> Click here to download a bigger version of the diagram above.

At each installation site, a camera will be set up, connected to a computer running custom face detection and smile detection software. The software will be continually capturing the faces of the people close to the smile boards and within its field of view. If it encounters what it considers to be a smile, it will save the image to the respective smile-board. As a local smile-board acquires new images, it will then send those new images across the internet to its corresponding board in the remote location. As the images will be compressed files of small size, the time taken to transfer and then display a new image from one location to another should be no more than 30 seconds.

Both boards at a given location will be connected to the same camera equipped computer. The software will also keep track of smile statistics, indicating how many smiles have been tracked per country, per hour and per day.

Grand Mutual Smiles will therefore create a simple but effective internet powered real-time index of happiness at the specific sites in both Austria and Bhutan.

The Grand Mutual Smiles project is the brain child of Pierre Proske. Pierre is a digital artist from Austria and presently in Thimphu as a VAST guest.

>> More about Pierre.

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Welcome dinner for Pierre at VAST.

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Welcome dinner for Pierre at VAST.

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Welcome dinner for Pierre at VAST.

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Welcome dinner for Pierre at VAST.

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