Here's What Would Happen If You Blew Up An Emoji Until It Became... Real


Scrolling through our text messages reveals, of course, a ton of emoji figures in the place of words.

We laugh through microscopic smiley faces, love with little pink floating hearts, show friendship through hand-holding figures, and feel the outdoors through smiling suns and pre-made snowmen.


One artist decided to explore society's use of the emoji through a playful, wildly creative photo series that turns these lifeless figures into real life images.

"I did this project because I felt like the tiny 20x20 pixel images most of us are using every single day deserved to be examined more closely. We basically think and speak in emoji now, and it hit me one day that we are taking this new form of communication for granted," artist Liza Nelson tells A Plus in an email.

Nelson emphasizes that emojis have become so universally popular, almost second nature, but though they're a new technology, "the crazy thing is, we truly are expressing incredibly real and raw emotions with these things."

That said, there's a kind of beauty in these emojis, despite their aesthetic simplicity: "They communicate so perfectly entire ranges of emotions and activities in seconds and more clearly than we can with words..."

"...People of every age, gender, race, sexual orientation and social status seem to connect with emojis and be able to communicate with them," Nelson says.

In fact, this language that emojis have created has gained some serious credibility. 

In a 2014, article for The New York Times, entitled "The Emoji Have Won The Battle of Words," Jessica Bennett explains that the emoji has found "exceptional cultural range," Beyoncé songs have been translated into an emoji language and "legal experts... have discussed whether an emoji death threat could be admissible in court.

"Any sort of symbolic system, when it's used for communication, is going to develop dialects," linguist Ben Zimmer said in the article.

Nelson is motivated to recreate emojis that she calls her "VIPs," or the ones she uses the most in conversation.

She explains that by taking emojis out of their common context, she can analyze them as "beautiful individual subjects... and see if people would still recognize them and understand their meaning at a glance."

Nelson's work also goes beyond the world of emojis, and she says that she finds inspiration literally everywhere.

In addition to finding inspiration all around Los Angeles, like in the city's nature, architecture, and people, she says that she's inspired by "fads and trends," seeing as she enjoys delving into the crux of their being "for their artistic merit and [figuring out] what they mean for us as a society." 

And she has some pretty stellar advice for artists trying to distinguish themselves from the rest.

"I say just make shit. Make shit constantly..."

"...If you have an idea, go for it, put everything you have into it from start to finish and don't worry about the end result. As artists, we know when we're passionate about an idea and when we're onto something. I think that the longer we drag it out, take breaks from it, show someone who doesn't love it or get it and then get down about it, the harder it is to finish a project. I think putting your work out there is key. Make a tumblr. Post it on Instagram. See what happens."

Continue for more of Nelson's work...

In 2013 Liza's "Emoji. IRL. LOL." project showed at the premiere Emoji Art & Design Show at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in Brooklyn. Her acceptance into that show is why her project gained so much attention. 

Moreover, Nelson says that, though she could not attend the actual show in person, she felt honored that so many people had a positive response to her art. "It was really cool to be included in such a talented and bizarre group of artists who all thought emojis were valid enough to make legit art about," she says. 

"It was like being surrounded by thousands of other people who get it, who recognize the simultaneous complete silliness and epic importance of emojis in our world right now," the artist adds.

And it's a world most of us are a part of, whether we recognize it or not.

Find more from Nelson's emoji project, as well as her other works, on her website.

(H/T: Mashable)


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