Made by yiyangg

What role do Emoticons play in the challenge of online social interaction?

Created: September 8th, 2016



Joke? Sarcasm? Compliment? Without any facial expression, text-based online communication can be very inaccurate. While I have been fascinated by the invention of emoticons (by CMU faculty!), I feel sometimes it is difficult to communicate subtle emotions or thoughts through text and emoticon. This work is an attempt to address such dilemma through a remix of traditional artworks that finely depicts facial expression and emoticons that represents our facial expression online.



Traditional artworks: I chose three works around 17th Century by Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Faces depicted in all three works look similar to the emoticon but convey very different emotions and ideas.

Emoticons: Facebook, one of the widely used social media today, incorporates many emoticons in their products. Instead of writing words to describe thoughts and emotions, people tend to use "like" or an emoticon to express their feelings towards many things, including friends' posts, jokes, news, articles. For this work, I chose "wow" emoticon from Facebook. I think it is one of the emotions that can be interpreted in many ways and represents my intention well.



I decided to replace the delicately depicted faces in traditional artworks with the emoticon "wow" face. I attempted to create a sense of uniformity and awkwardness in contrast to the subtlety of facial expression in original artworks.

- The two elements are very different in texture, brightness, etc. So I tried many tools in Photoshop (like blur filters/ feather masks) and attempted to integrate the two disjointed elements into one work. 

- I put the four pieces of wow faces in a collage style to draw connection and contrast between them.


Critique/Personal Reflection

- The product is not smooth and integrated enough. Can be improved with more advanced skills in digital graphic production.

- I feel the three artworks I chose to appropriate (except for Medusa, the left one)  are not iconic enough to draw a connection to the traditional artworks. The work can be stronger if I create dozens of similar works and arrange them into a collage.

- It was challenging and stressful to create the thing that exactly represents my idea and intention. I have been compromising throughout the process. I feel if it is not for the time limit, my inner critic may drive me to refine the work over and over.

- Appropriating works from others did make me doubt the originality and value of my own work. I couldn't help linking my work to the pop art by Warhol and the three artworks I used. The process made me really experience the ambivalence and dilemma described in the reading last week.

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62-150 Intro to Media Synthesis and Analysis

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New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers a...more


What role do Emoticons play in the challenge of online social interaction?