After John Lennnon died, Yoko Ono found it difficult to smile, but she would force herself to do it every morning in the mirror. At first, it was “forced and looked terrible,” but as she explains on the Huffington Post, eventually it came naturally to her again. “It not only became a smile with my mouth and my eyes, but my shoulders, my tummy, and finally, with my whole body,” she writes. “I thought ‘Okay, I’ve won the battle!’ That’s when I realized how important it is for all of us to smile — not for anybody else, but for ourselves and our health.”
This moment ultimately resulted in Ono’s Smilesfilm project, which started as a Flickr group in 2009, originally featuring images collected from photo booths at exhibits in Tokyo, Berlin, and New Delhi. Now, as part of her current show at the Serpentine Gallery in London, Ono has created #smilefilm, an iPhone app that allows users worldwide to get involved. Participating is easy: all you need to do is a take a photo of yourself smiling, upload it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #smilefilm, and add your geotag location. The collected smiles are being mapped and displayed through the app, as well as at the Serpentine and on the project’s website. Click through to watch a short video of Ono walking you through the process.