It is about a year -started on the 2nd of June, 2012 and it will finish the 31st of May 2013- that the artist Julius von Bismarck, the experimental designer Benjamin Maus and the filmmaker Richard Wilhelmer made the installation “Public Face,” an oversized smiley face made of steel and neon tubes on the roof of the silo on the Malzfabrik grounds. The second public art project by District Arts and Cultural Promotion scans various facial expressions of pedestrians, who are filmed in the Tempelhof area by a camera and will be inaugurated during the Malzwiese, the annual summer event of the Malzfabrik. The film material is analysed within a few seconds with the aid of software (developed by the Fraunhofer Institut). In regular intervals, the emotions of the filmed and thus surveiled persons are transferred to the smiley, which then takes on a corresponding facial expression.
Von Bismarck, Maus and Wilhelmer thus convey a critical comment on surveillance technologies and social control mechanisms. “Public Face” reflects the dynamics of social coexistence, which are becoming more and more relevant within the context of sustainability and new information technologies.
The first project Public Face I (Stimmungsgasometer) was presented in Berlin in 2008 and it was the same smiley on a huge screen from which one can read the average mood of the Berlin citizens. Also used the same software to obtain mood data from public which was also stored on a server and processed by the smiley on the screen to visualise the emotions in real-time.