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Celebrating emoji: artists get physical with the classic smiley face

2013, which updates the number of emoji being used on Twitter in real-time, projected on a gallery wall. Back in the ‘90s, when a young employee at the Japanese mobile company NTT Docomo scratched out a series of 12-pixel-square faces and created the template for what would become “the body language of the internet,” he could have never in his wildest dreams imagined something like the Emoji Art and Design Show, an event in which almost 30 artists gathered to pay tribute to the tiny, text-sized animations. Since the Unicode standardization of the adorable pictographs and their subsequent inclusion on iOS keyboards, emoji have become a crucial part of the way we communicate. The symbols, which NYT technology reporter Jenna Wortham calls “an ever-changing communal form of cryptography,” were used 1.7 billion times on Twitter between July and November of 2013 alone.

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