The rise in popularity of emoji in the West has followed the same course as how Ernest Hemingway describes a man going broke: “gradually then suddenly.” Now, emoji seems to be everywhere from Hollywood movie billboards to, well, the Oxford Dictionary. But for artist Shinji Murakami the world is just catching up to his love affair with the pictograms originally developed by Japanese mobile phone operators in the late 90s.
Inspired by the ancient yet versatile 8-bit technology, Murakami has been creating works harken back to Dragon Quest, Zelda and other video games of his childhood. And now he’s presenting a series of new works during a major solo exhibition in New York.
Playfully titled using 9 different emoji, Murakami has created 14 works in flat, sculptural and LED form, filling Catinca Tabacaru Gallery with flowers, hearts, rainbows, sparkles and a galloping horse. Using the idea of emoji as pixels and, in turn, pixels as building blocks, Murakami masterfully sculpts his objects from wood creating perfect replicas of the ideograms we now so casually send.