Cheese – the performance of sincerity is very hard work

Cheese, imagined by Christian Moller (D), is an experiment in the architecture of sincerity. Inspired by the ever-friendly and smiling faces of Hollywood entertainment industry, the work is based on the research on “emotion recognition” by the Machine Perception Laboratories of the Univeristy of California.

Over 800 girls answered a small ad “Looking for actress, news anchor type, for a series of video portraits.”


Cheese stages a human-computer interaction in which the computer takes the dominant position:
On camera 6 actresses each try to hold a smile for as long as they can, for up to one and a half hour.
Each smile is analysed by the computer perception system, and whenever the display of happiness falls below a certain threshold, an alarm alerts them to show more sincerity.

The reality of the girls’ emotional discomfort, masked by their convincing performances, is only apparent during the intemittent breaks necessary to relax their exhausted faces.