Smile :-), Wear It Like a Costume! 

One of my interests for over a decade has been the “corporation environment” in various dimensions. I have created kinetic businessman sculptures and businessman drawings where the subjects purposely smile a very distinctive “business mode smile.”


But what happens if a businessman smiles like a nursery school teacher, or vice versa?


In this project, I have decided to investigate what I call the “professional smile.” I believe that each profession has their own way of smiling to communicate and negotiate with clients and customers. I regard it as a part of the costume of the work world, an aspect of professional behavior.


For example, a nursery school teacher, show-biz entertainer, hotel concierge or investment banker each have their own characteristic smile. While the teacher’s is friendly and unthreatening, the banker’s is meant to convey an influential, strong and confident impression. We all know there is a reason for these differences based on our society’s expectations.


I am researching the definition of these individual professional smiles, and investigating their relationship within our social system. What makes them so different? Can we “wear” another profession’s smile like extension of a work costume?


I was interested in how far I could pursue a social sculptural event through media art. I have entitled this project, “Smile , Wear It Like a Costume!” to play with and replace the different types of smiles of different professionals. The audience can use their own faces to play with the different smiling patterns.


There were two screens projected on to right-angled walls. The first screen showed the different smiling patterns of various professions. The audience will be able to match their own faces to them, much like trying on clothing. All the smiling patterns I’ve collected were through collaboration with Singapore professionals who have volunteered to help me.


The second screen was a video that I produced in Singapore, which documents how I created this project. The piece included my thoughts, Singapore professionals’ smiles and their opinions, and how people became involved. I was interested to do this project particularly in Singapore where the “smile” was used for a political event.