David Hedberg’s TV Works Only When You Smile

Smile TV by David Hedberg

It’s Art School degree show season and so I’m making the most of it by visiting as many shows as I can muster. The other week I hit up London’s prestigious Royal College of Art to take a look at what their students have been up to and I was really impressed by the talent on display. My personal favorite was the work of David Herdberg; a graduate of the college’s Information Experience Design course.

Smile TV by David Hedberg

For his major project David designed a TV which, on first impressions, looked fairly innocuous. Sure, the reception was poor but the wooden legs looked nice and they worked well with the white plastic casing. It wasn’t until I sat down in front of the set that I noticed a small label which read “SMILE TO WATCH”. Being the typically obedient gallery-goer that I am I kindly followed these instructions and forced the muscles of my face to form the requested smile. Suddenly the signal quickly shot into clarity. My face – still proudly wearing its solicited expression – was repaid with a montage of surreal clips played out on the screen. As I continued to watch my face began to relax back to its typical scowl and as my faux-cheery demeanor faded, so too did the television’s reception.

For David, the work examines how our society has the ability to access endless amounts of content. He notes that in the past a TV’s reception relied on an antenna to work; this TV plays with that idea, creating a set which must rely on the receptive nature of the viewer to function. “By expressing that we like something, we have very much become antennas ourselves – transmitting the content on to somebody else” he says. By combining a set from the last-decade with modern facial recognition technology (i.e. magic), the piece asks us to re-consider how we engage with content and how we access it. It’s a fantastic idea and David’s execution is simply top-notch!

You can see more from David Hedberg on his website.

Philip Kennedy

July 9, 2014 / By