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The Emoji Show Is Gathering Emoji Based Art

Like the selfie, the emoji has faced its fair share of derision. But as more and more people use the little icons they're finding more acceptance

smithsonian.com

We’ve already established that the selfie is a legitimate art form – validated by having its own show and gallery. Now it’s time to add the emoji. The Emoji Show explains the idea behind the show:

In today’s visually oriented culture, which increasingly communicates through images rather than text, emoji comprise a kind of “visual vernacular,” a language that conveys humor, ambiguity and personality as well as meaning.

This visual form of communication isn’t necessarily new—from cave paintings, to hieroglyphics, to religious and mythological symbols encoded in traditional painting and sculpture, we’ve been communicating through images since the dawn of mankind—but its dominance in culture today, especially among millennials, seems to indicate a greater shift in our approach to self-expression.

Like the selfie, the emoji has faced its fair share of derision. But as more and more people use the little icons, they’re finding more acceptance. According to Britt Peterson at the Boston Globe, even anthropologists are interested:

Digital culture is awash in words: a 2010 report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project showed that US teens used texting more than any other method to stay in touch. But younger Americans are accustomed to exchanging information visually as well. For people growing up on Snapchat, Instagram, GIFs, and the image-heavy pages of Facebook, emoji are the perfect “boundary form,” as University of California Irvine cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito describes it, engaging both language and image. It helps that for older readers—i.e., parents—they can be completely indecipherable.

If you want to get in on the emoji trend but aren’t sure where to start, you can see which emoji are the most popular right now at Emoji Tracker.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The National Selfie Portrait Gallery Is a Real Thing, And It’s Art

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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