Our favorite emoji, which we consider data and use every day to convey our deeper feelings, have a story. And now this story will be protected as part of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
No, the museum has not appropriated the emoji we regularly use on our smartphones. Instead, it acquired the original emoji collection released by Japanese telecommunications giant NTT DoCoMo in 1999.
Developed by Shigetaka Kurita, they were brought to life on Japanese mobile phones at a time when cutting-edge innovation was represented by platforms such as DoCoMo's i-Mode, and mobiles with lids were at the height of its popularity.
Of course, because Emoji are symbols and not tangible art, some may wonder what exactly MoMA means when it says that it has "acquired" the symbols. Back in 2010, the museum acquired the symbol "@", praising its status as an apt element of planning in the modern design. At that time, the museum recognized Ray Tomlinson as having appropriated and changed the meaning and introduction of the symbol, which has been used in various forms for hundreds of years.
"We have acquired the design itself, and since we will have it in different fonts, we will mark a specific font each time, as we would refer to the materials from which a natural object is made," said MoMA curator Paola Antonelli .
However, in the case of DoCoMo emoji, originally born in the era of mobile technology, the origin of the design is very clear.
As a piece of modern art, staff will determine where the emoji screen will be, among the more traditional works by dedicated artists and designers of the past. But as an example of the rapid evolution of the way we communicate in 21 century, this is perhaps one of the most powerful exhibits of the museum.
The exact details of the installation are still planned, but the audience will see it for the first time in the presentation, which will include 2D graphics and animations, starting in December.