For many cities, galleries serve as the hub of the art community. But if you can’t make it out to the hip new exhibits as often as you would like to, there’s a new solution: log on to Twitter and follow @thetinygallery, an account that generates brand-new artworks out of emojis, lines, blank spaces and dashes.
Every six hours or so, Tiny Gallery posts a new, randomly-generated digital gallery, fitting with Twitter’s 140-character limit. The account creates a little gallery displaying emojis as if it they were actual works of art hanging on gallery walls, rather on a Twitter feed. The teeny digital galleries are even populated with emoji visitors. The account is run by Emma Winston, a PhD student in ukulele subculture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
“I like the idea of messing around with people’s idea of what art and creativity are, of making things fun and making things accessible,” Winston tells Robert Barry for Motherboard.
Each of Winston's iterations are different, from the “art” displayed to the people visiting. While some Tiny Gallery exhibitions are crowded, like a recent one that featured images of a volcano and a cactus that emoji visitors flocked to, another that juxtaposed images of a medieval European castle with a Japanese pagoda was completely free of viewers. Looking at the tweet, you can almost hear the echoes.
While on its surface, Tiny Gallery certainly seems a bit silly, it does poke fun at the idea and role of galleries in the contemporary art world. While galleries can be a great way to get to see art by the most established fine artists to young creatives just starting out on the scene, they can be intimidating spaces to enter, Katherine Brooks writes for the Huffington Post.
“Most are designed like very fancy boxes, with extra white walls and unforgiving concrete floors,” Brooks writes. “Those brave enough to cross the secret-society-like thresholds must pass by a gatekeeper who is nestled safely behind a large, formidable desk, poised to stare at you no matter which corner of the gallery you occupy…‘NEVER touch the art,’ your superego bellows, as you attempt to flex as few muscles as possible.”
Like real-life galleries, the Tiny Gallery hangs its ever-changing art on the walls of an unchanging digital gallery. The pictures and people may change, but the walls made from lines and dashes maintain the same design and two piece of art always hang inside the frame.
But while the Tiny Gallery teases the idea of the art gallery as tastemaker and gatekeeper to the art world, it also points to how the Internet has become home to many artists looking for alternative places to showcase their work outside of the traditional system, Barry writes. After all, as the Tiny Gallery shows, all it takes is 140 characters to create a simple gallery.