Ben Vida Makes Music With Smiles

THE DAILY PIC: At Lisa Cooley, Vida has emotions trigger music–not vice versa.


THE DAILY PIC (#1536): We all know that music can trigger emotions, but what about trying the equation the other way around? That’s more or less what Ben Vida has done in a new video projection at Lisa Cooley gallery in New York. (Click on my image to watch a clip.) Vida has shot male and female actors in close up as they make unremarkable expressions in front of his camera. And then he’s paired various musical tones with their different facial motions: Each time one woman blinks, a cheery “ping” sounds in the gallery; when an attractive young man turns up his mouth in a smile, we get to hear an optimistic rising tone. Vida’s sitters aren’t reacting to the emotional effects of the sounds, but are working in tandem with those sounds to touch us.

It feels like we’re watching the work of an ad man from the future who has taken manipulation to the next level. Or maybe today’s ad men have got there already, but they’re too skilled for us to know it.

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