While emojis have become a universal cellular language, the origin of the modern-day hieroglyphic is actually rooted in Japan. Inspired by Manga, or Japanese comics, designer Shigetaka Kurita created the early blueprint of the modern-day emoji as a way to motivate Japanese teens to buy pagers in the late-nineties.
Since then emojis have become a fixture of digital communication. While some decry emoji-culture as a linguistic fast track to the erosion of language, some intellectual and artistic circles are welcoming emoticons with open arms.
Listen to Virginia's interview with Jennifer Kutz from SwiftKey about international emoji use.
Here are our top five examples of times when emoji got all high-brow.
The State of the Union address can be a lack-luster affair, especially for the Millennial crowd. The Guardian opted to bridge this communicative barrier by speaking to the younger crowd in their own language. Using the Twitter handle Emojibama, The Guardian live-tweeted quotes from the speech using almost only emojis. Check out the full emoji transcript here.
Coming in at over seven-hundred pages, Moby Dick can be hard to get through. Published in 1851, the maritime narrative got a face-lift in 2013 when Fred Benenson published Emoji Dick, an emoji version of the seminal Melville work. In order to translate the 10,000 plus lines, Benenson used Amazon's Mechanical Turk to crowdsource the labor to different emoji translators. While the work has been regarded as "astoundingly useless," Emoji Dick now has a home in the literary big league, the Library of Congress.
The emoji has also made its way into the New York art scene. In December of 2013, Forced Meme Productions presented the Emoji Art & Design Show. The gallery was comprised of visual and performance art as well as fashion pieces, all styled in the name of the emoji. Among the artworks was a piece by Cara Rose Defabio titled Melroji Place, a television box that played episodes of the lusty, day-time soap opera Melrose Place with emoji subtitles.
As with most internet-born fads, emojis have found an ardent following on Tumblr. One blog in particular, The Emojinal Art Gallery, has garnered a massive viral following by giving classical works of art an emoji twist. From Goya to Picasso, no work is off-limits. Whether it's bona fide art or just artistic sacrilege, the Emojinal Art Gallery knows how to make us smile.
Ever wonder how many yellow smileys are being sent into the Twitter-sphere in this given moment? Probably not. But for the mathematically curious among us, I present you with emojitracker. Emojitracker measures the real-time use of emojis on Twitter, updating the statistics every time an emoji gets pinged. The purpose of this experiment has yet to be seen.