Smile (2019). The Gaza strip is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the east and north. Gaza and the West Bank are claimed by the State of Palestine.
The 2014 50-day war between Israel and Hamas claimed the lives of more than 2,150 Palestinians, wounded more than 10,000 and displaced an estimated 300,000 people. On the Israeli side, at least 64 soldiers were killed, and six civilians died. Since then, only one third of the 11000 homes destroyed have been rebuilt.
Western cultural relationship with war often frames it from a fascinated alien perspective–war as entertainment. Simultaneously engaging in processes that do not alleviate the structural power inequalities that originate the conflict.
Smile is a mixed-media installation consisting of a screen situated in a black box, mounted on the wall. The screen is black. However, when an interactor smiles at the installation, drone-footage of the ruins of Gaza, digitally slowed-down by the artist, fades in. If the interactor stops smiling, the videos stops. It only plays when the interactor widely smiles at it.
The installation reflects on the construction of a spectacle from otherwise dramatic news, as well as reflecting on the otherness and dehumanization of war.
The piece also explores on the power asymmetries that technology crystallises where spectators are forced to surrender to the imposed narratives. The piece aims to provide with a reflection on the aesthetics of our relationship with it, while simultaneously showcasing the advancements in computer vision and human-computer interaction.
beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” ― George Orwell, 1984