As the world becomes increasingly dependent on virtual communication, the potential for misunderstanding is ever present. I resisted the use of emoticons and stickers at first. They struck me as the pictorial equivalent of LOL. If that’s the best you can manage, why try at all?
I’ve since reversed my position. Several things contributed to this change in attitude:
- The peace of mind that comes from any kind of confirmation that one’s message has indeed been received.
- The unsupportably terse communication style of a colleague. Whether intentional or not, his monosyllabic replies to my flurry of texts and emails seemed to indicate disdain… for me! Hey Buster, I’m busy too…
- My discovery that my phone’s built-in emoji vocabulary included an alien, a demonic Namahage, and a friendly looking pile of poo.
By curating my emotions and Facebook stickers carefully, I’ve cobbled together a visual shorthand vocabulary that works for me. It’s a matter of self respect. (And self preservation. My wardrobe’s already running afoul of the Secret Internet Police. Why give them ammo to accuse me of unseemly clinging to a long gone sticker-obsessed girlhood?)
If you think I’m overthinking this, you likely won’t be interested in downloading artist Hyo Hong’s Cindy Sherman-icons for your personal use.
Or maybe they’re exactly what you’ve been waiting for, you old art snob, you!
Either way… enjoy!
The Sherman-icons are a logical extension of other Hong projects that play with perceptions of non-face-to-face interactions, including the Upside Down Facebook Page, the New York Taxi Guestbook, and Hand-Written Facebook Comment.
If the purpose of an emoticon is to convey a certain feeling or attitude on the part of the respondent, the chameleonic Sherman is well suited to carry the burden. The photographer has served as her own model for four decades worth of portraits. She has embodied such archetypes as housewife, prostitute, dancer, actress, damsel in distress, and socialite. Her pursuit of certain truths often leads her to embrace the grotesque. Her willingness to look like hell in the service of her art continues to shock and sometimes offend. (Let’s just say my late mother-in-law was not a fan.)
How wonderful that this radical artist’s work is now available to you in a form that may prove every bit as useful as a gift shop tote bag or umbrella.
Do you really want to depend on a cartoon smiley face to get that across for you? (See below.)
No guarantee that Sherman-icon users’ impulses will be correctly interpreted on the receiving end, but it seems a risk worth taking.
Click here for easy 3‑step instructions for downloading and using Cindy Sherman-icons.
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and performer whose next mission is portraying a decidedly Cindy Shermanesque business woman in a free reading of Lunchtime, Greg Kotis’ play of office romance in the time of the New York Deli Wars. Follow her @AyunHalliday