Asko Lehmuskallio is a university researcher at the University of Tampere, in Finland, and an Adjunct Professor for Visual Culture Studies. His research focuses on media anthropology, visual studies, and digital culture, and he has studied and worked at universities in Finland, Spain, Germany and the US. Lehmuskallio is a founding member of the Nordic Network for Digital Visuality (NNDV) and chair of the ECREA TWG Visual Cultures and the Diaphanes network for interdisciplinary studies of visuality. His recent books include Pictorial Practices in a “Cam Era” (2012, Tampere Univ. Press), #snapshot: Cameras amongst Us (co-ed. with A. Rastenberger, 2014, Finnish Museum of Photography), and Digital Photography and Everyday Life (co-ed. with E. Gómez Cruz, 2016, Routledge). Currently, he works as principal researcher in the Academy of Finland project Digital Face (2016–19).
While the smile is an invitation for social interaction and is used widely in public depictions to invite people to interact with strangers, celebrities, or commodities, the grimace explicitly questions these invitations.
Grimaces are important facial expressions used in situated interactions for questioning social hierarchies and power relations. They counter the warmth of the smile and its invitation for shared foci of attention. In the photographs that surround us, the grimace is seldom to be found, whereas the smile is an almost ubiquitous expression in depictions in our “facial societies” (Macho, 2011). Interestingly, the need for depicted smiles provides us increasingly with images that depict not only smiles but, ever more, “as if” versions of smiles, facial expressions that we can identify with Goffman as “teeth grimaces”. While teeth grimaces reveal some aspects of how smiles are produced for depiction for our facial societies, the paper further suggests that we need more grimaces and fewer smiles in order to remember how social hierarchies and power relations, far from being abstract phenomena, must be constantly renegotiated in situated interactions.