In the mid 1850s French neurologist and photographer Duchenne de Boulogne performed a series of experiments in which he treated human facial muscles with low-voltage electroshocks. The aim of his controversial, if visionary acts was to reveal the truest of human emotions that remained hidden beneath the skin, censored by the consciousness of the mind. As a result, Duchenne de Boulogne compiled a comprehensive catalogue of photographs representing the full range of human feelings, which today could be interpreted as the very first collection of emojis.
This internationally unified language of small, digital images and icons used in digital messaging wasn't in fact properly developed until the late 1990s when Japanese engineer Shigetaka Kurita designed a very basic alphabet of emoticons for the users of cell phones. This new form of communication became instantly an international phenomenon and in almost 20 years since its invention and redevelopment, our thoughts and emotions tend to be expressed more in this pre-designed and ready system of icons rather than by searching for and combining words.
Emotional Baggage, window display filled with emoji cushions squashed insde storage, vacuum bags,
installation view, Exhibit A, 2018
The disbelieving disbelief rolls eyes at the disbelieving disbelief whilst the disbelieving rolls eyes at the disbelief, emoji cushions squashed inside storage, vacuum bag, 90x80 cm, 2018
In his installation, London-based artist Piotr Krzymowski presents a series of emoji pillows compressed in large, plastic, vacuum, storage bags. Similarly to the experiments of the French doctor, the artist uses a brutal force of deflating in order to give a more human, bodily and individual dimension to the otherwise banal, identically looking and mass fabricated pillows. Wrinkled and squashed surface of the cushions suggests that something authentic and individual may be hiding underneath the surface of a miniature, global and mass- consumed emoji. The individual titles of the bags (for example The disbelieving disbelief rolls eyes at the disbelieving disbelief) come from translating the emoji symbols of each bag into sentences with the use of online translator that converts icons into text. Ultimately this new alphabet and language of emojis is converted back into words, which in the era of algorithmic translation may sound abstract and less human, but by all means current.
From X to XX, emoji cushion stuffed with original, handwritten 1920s love letters, 40x40x20cm, 2018
In the series of sculptures From X to X, contemporary expressions of affection—represented by ubiquitous and mass-consumed emoji icons— are juxtaposed with a unique, intimate and personal expression of love. The stuffing of the factory-line felt cushions are exposed to reveal hand-written love letters, emotional messages discovered by the artist at a London flea market that detail the correspondence of an anonymous English couple in the early 1920s. (Reed Hague)