This project was part of Ars Electronica’s ambitious 80+1 project. It formed part of the Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture Year, and was sponsored by Voestalpina and Linz 09.
Artist: Pierre Proske [Australia]
Tech: Damian Stewart
Software: Arturo Castro
Location: Thimphu, Bhutan
In a response to accusations in 1987 by a journalist that the pace of development in Bhutan was slow, the then King of Bhutan replied “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”. This signaled his commitment to building an economy appropriate to Bhutan’s culture, based on Buddhist spiritual values, and has since served as a unifying vision for the Bhutanese economy. In a survey in 2005, 45 percent of those Bhutanese surveyed reported being very happy, 52 percent reported being happy and only three percent reported not being happy. 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 screens at each installation site. The motivation is to encourage users to communicate across the Internet in a non-verbal and humoristic way — by smiling. The project will present two real-time updating sets of people’s faces at each of the locations – Linz, Austria and Thimphu, Bhutan.