You've probably already seen the emoji video for Beyonce's 2013 hit "Drunk In Love". A literal depiction of the song's narrative through emoji, it's gotten filmmaker Jesse Hill major love from all corners of the internet. But some fans have pointed out that the video has a very similar style to net artist John Michael Boling's "Boring Angel" video for Oneohtrix Point Never.
Hill, who told Dazed that he's previously only worked with emoji in "a desperate attempt to make girlfriends smile", had this to say about the video:
"Last Friday, I was having coffee with this friend. We parted, each got into our own cars, and then I got a text from her. It said '96.7.' I tuned into 96.7 on the radio, and Beyoncé was singing 'surfbordt'. So, I sent the surfboard emoji to my friend. She sent me an emoji for the next lyric back. Me to her. Her to me. And then I text her, 'I'm going to make an emoji music video for this. It might go viral.'
Sunday I sat down in front of my computer, Google searched hi-res emojis, and began plugging them into a Final Cut timeline. My only goal was to make her smile and be done by the time the Oscars started, both of which I achieved. Then, I thought friends might like it. I tried to put it on Youtube, but no dice for the obvious copyright issue. I went with Vimeo... and then my mind was blown. (Especially when Beyoncé shared it on Facebook!)
I was actually brought to tears by John Michael Boling's video for 0PN's "Boring Angel." I think it's brilliant, and after I made a stir with my video and comparisons started being made, I wrote him out of respect, saying thank you for the inspiration. I wouldn't have made the Beyoncé vid had I not seen it. I said I wasn't trying to steal his idea or gain anything from doing so, but that I came to the conclusion that emoji is a relevant language and that we are each using it with unique dialects to convey very different moods, meanings and messages.
Boling's response was very kind. But I don't find emoji itself as sad or playful. It's a keyboard. Keyboards are used to string symbols (characters or letters) together in order to create meaning. The individual letters in the alphabet are pretty sad symbols themselves, but Neruda used them to make people melt. Likewise, a video made with emojis can say a million things. It can be sad, sexual, violent, hilarious or all of the above. I kind of see emoji as a unicode version of cave painting symbols, only with more cigarettes, booze, and sexual innuendoes. I'm hoping to do more of these for sure. But I really want to do one for an unreleased track in collaboration with an artist soon. So, Kanye? Drake? A$AP? Kendrick? Get at me."
Compare and contrast Hill's video with "Boring Angel", below:
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot