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An Artist Who Uses Emoji to Understand How We Connect

January 30, 2014 2 min read

If you're in possession of a smartphone or have ever used a chat room the likelihood is that you've used one of those cute little emoji or emoticons, a.k.a. smily faces, in one of your texts or messages.  And if you've used one you've also questioned what exactly the little characters are doing exactly and what on earth would you use that for? 6567755_300 New York based performance artist, Genevieve Belleveau, is also fascinated by those little misinterpretations.  In a quest to understand them she began a piece called, Emoji Autism Facial Recognition Therapy.  The piece was highly regarded at the Emoji Art Show, as one of the most thought-provoking pieces.  The piece examines common misinterpretations people make with emoji. According to Wired, at the Emoji Art Show opening, Belleveau sat, hosting impromptu sessions with “patients.” She asked people questions based on their understanding of emoji — How would you respond with emoji if your significant other broke up with you right before you were to leave on a trip with them? – and placed them on an “emoji spectrum” based upon how elaborate or interpretive their responses are. Genevieve elaborated that those who answered with literal interpretations and answered the question without much detail, were more likely to have Aspbergers, and fell on the lower end of the spectrum. Genevieve's Emoji recognition therapy addresses the underlying difficulty that we all face with grasping the meaning of emoji-just as we have difficulty in our own lives adequately expressing our feelings in words. It turns out there is a definitive way to read both facial expressions and a concrete definition of emoji and some, especially those with autism, are simply not born with the ability to read them.  It follows that there is nothing "inherently wrong" with any of us, only that we were born with different talents and abilities.  What is rather exciting is that there is a possibility that those with aspbergers and autism could be taught what such emoji and emotions mean-an encouraging thought for all of us.

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