This week editorial assistant Maisie Skidmore is considering the growing influence of the emoji on the art and design community. As ever, you can let us know your favourite examples of emoji-based-creativity or just voice your eternal hatred of the tiny yellow faces and miniature fruits in the comments section below.
Call it the best thing to happen to linguistics since Shakespeare invented the word swagger or the worst plague since the Black Death, but the arrival of the iPhone into modern society has unleashed a veritable tidal-wave of tiny emotive faces into our lives. They were first developed for mobile internet services by Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita in 1998, and quickly made available on phones and computers everywhere.
And we mean everywhere! This week we came across the music video for “Boring Angel” by Oneohtrix Point Never, a slideshow/animation in which a full narrative, including an emotional rollercoaster and a progression in time are all communicated (with varying levels of success) using nothing but those tiny faces an iPhone comes equipped with. Editor James Cartwright was easily swayed: “I expected to hate this because emojis are a heinous crime against humanity and proper communication. But I love it, and will now use emojis religiously.” Sure.
The music video isn’t the first tentative venture of the emoji into the world of art and design, either. We’ve already seen Emojinal Art and entire articles littered with them not to mention the time that Edvard Munch’s Scream was adapted to suit the digital world. And on a whole other level, scientists and psychologists the world over have been conducting studies to examine how far our brains recognise emojis as real faces, revealing frightening but innate emotional reactions to their tiny, round, digital faces.
Believe it or not, the adoption of emojis into our mental sphere might not be the most concerning aspect of their reach. I can already envisage serious linguistic types quaking in their boots at sound of somebody calling out “oh my God SAD FACE!” or “salsa dancing woman!” to articulate feelings of despair or an especially good time respectively, while other happily accept such exclamations into their vocabulary. Still, let’s not forget that it was the truly authoritative Oxford English Dictionary who crowned “selfie” the word of 2013, and not an over enthusiastic teenager.
In the studio, on the other hand, we’re more concerned with those that are missing – unicorns, hedgehogs and uncrowned blonde girls all included “because some blonde girls don’t wear crowns, you know? I mean, I don’t know, any but I’ve heard.”
What do you think? Do you think the emoji plays a part in the slow but definite downfall of the English language, or is it a vast improvement on the dull constrictions of ordinary adjectives? What’s your favourite adaptation? What’s missing? We want to hear it all!
About the Author
Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 as an intern before joining full time as an Assistant Editor. Maisie left It’s Nice That in July 2015.