Modern art, meet emojis in a new museum exhibit

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The original set of emojis designed by Shigetaka Kurita, 1998-99. Images provided by NTT DOCOMO/Museum of Modern Art, New York

The original set of emojis designed by Shigetaka Kurita, 1998-99. Images provided by NTT DOCOMO/Museum of Modern Art, New York


The original digital emoticons have attained “art” status.

All 176 original emoticons, created in 1999, will go on display in a Museum of Modern Art installation opening in New York City in December.

In a post on Medium, MoMA design collection specialist Paul Galloway announced the upcoming exhibit and praised the role emojis play in modern culture.

“Images and patterns have been incorporated within text since antiquity,” he said. “Filling in for body language, emoticons, kaomoji, and emoji reassert the human in the deeply impersonal, abstract space of electronic communication.”

The first digital pictographs were designed for NTT DoCoMo Japanese pagers.

New-age emojis developed a decade later when Apple used the icons for the 2011 iPhone. Now there are nearly 2,000 emojis, the New York Times reported.

The first modern hieroglyphics, created by designer Shigetaka Kurita, live in 12 by 12 pixel grids and are made from one of six colors: black, red, orange, lilac, grass green and royal blue. Some are literal symbolic icons. Others such as the heart symbol, are simple. There were certainly no Easter Island head or salsa dance girls at the time.

Where emojis are now used in communication, Japanese companies used them to provide customers weather update and information on local businesses and restaurants, the Times reported.

MoMA plans to add the 2-D graphics and animations to their growing collection of digital objects, such at the @ symbol, Reuters reported.

The post Modern art, meet emojis in a new museum exhibit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.