A while ago I listened to the last episode of ‘A Piece of Work’; a podcast produced by the MoMa with TV star Abbi Jacobson as host/ co-creator. Now I’m a radio – and since a few years also podcast – addict, but I don’t know a thing about what’s on television. But Abbi is apparently someone who’s hot and happening on US Comedy Central. MoMabbi’s podcast is quite amusing. Not that bad even. I get that they are not aiming for me as a listener, so in a way I feel like I’m sort of eavesdropping. They spoke about popular culture and design this week and I like the way they lower the threshold. Seriously, I’m learning here…
This episode was centered around curator Paola Antonelli from MoMa’s design department and the very first set of emoji’s she acquired for the collection. It is actually a really beautiful collection of 12 x 12 pixel images, from 1999 already. And let’s not forget to mention the designer: Shigetaka Kurita.
Still I keep on wondering what these images are doing to our imagination; our lingual vocabulary but also our visual or illustrative vocabulary. Nietzsche already mentioned several limitations of our western language (when we say leaf, we know what a leaf is; but there’s not one leaf in the world that’s the same). So, he says, in language we create groups of objects but there’s no room for exceptions.
Some of you might have heard about a similar experiment they did with kids in kindergarten/ pre-schools: the teachers asks the children to make a drawing of a dog. They understand the task, but there’s not one dog the same.
But now we have these emoji’s that reach us deep down in our subconscious. A while ago I even dreamt I was texting someone and I saw some emoji’s in my dream! The ones below, still seem harmless. I don’t believe your subconscious image of certain words and symbols will be filled with 12×12 pixel images. But with this contemporary stuff… to some extend it enriched our conversations in the digital realm, I’m totally positive on that. But on the other hand: couldn’t it just kill our imagination?