Over the past thirteen weeks, Binaisha and I have worked towards a media art project that explores the concept of ‘Futures’ through language. Focusing on the emergence of emoji as a digital language and how that has affected the way we communicate today.
Our project started as a recreation of Nastya Ptichek‘s work, who created a five-part series crossing the digital with classical stylings of art. Ptichek’s work created a “clever and interesting commentary on the impact that technology…. has on our lives.” From our recreations and a conversation with Jo, we discovered that there was no real question that was being asked. We then brainstormed and decided that we wanted our project to explore the use of technology and its effect on how we communicate with each other. This concept was heavily based on Marshall McLuhan’s ‘the medium is the message’, which suggests that the medium a message is sent through changes the way it Is received and interpreted.
“This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” ~McLuhan
We thought of different ideas as to how we could achieve this and found that a video was going to work best, as we wanted to show a conversation between people. However, we hit a creative wall as we didn’t know what type of conversation to explore. Through discussion with Jo, we decided to start with ordinary conversation and add a spoken emoji to the end of a sentence. We started by looking at our own messages and tried converting them with emoji within them, but soon discovered that they had no “plot”, any coherency or engaging component for other audiences.
From here we moved to look at popular tv and movie scenes and decided on looking at a scene from the sitcom ‘Friends’ to experiment with. We took one of the opening scenes from the episode ‘The one with Ross’ new girlfriend’ and translated the script into emoji. We then tried many different angles and framing to film the scene, then added subtitles of the original lines during editing. When we put it up to show the class Binaisha and I weren’t happy with what we created but used it as a stepping stone to branch our next iterations from. However, to our surprise, we were told that our acting alongside the translations worked really well and kept the audience engaged, as they tried to decipher what was going on.
Our project went through several different iterations, some that worked well and others that took the project a step backwards. However, we believe our final piece encompasses what we wanted to achieve. For our final piece, we used conversation we were familiar with in retail, looking at conversations that were common in that environment among employees, managers and customers.
All in all, I think our project effectively illustrates our main questions of how we communicate with each other in a very abstract way. I do believe however that with a little more time and more research into types of conversations we could expand the work to use a variety of conversation types as well as improvising our own conversations to make it look more genuine.