Ukrainian artist Nastya Nudnik talks about combining emoji with high art
Emojis are everywhere: they're in Beyonce videos and Karl Lagerfeld apps, and you can even watch a Game Of Thrones episode in emoji. Now a Ukrainian artist called Nastya Nudnik has placed the symbols of the internet age on classic paintings to communicate the feelings of the subjects to a modern audience. The project is called Emoji Nation, it combines emoji and other messages from online life - it's brilliant. We spoke to her about what inspired her and the possibilities of emoji as a language.
Dazed Digital: What inspired you to make Emoji-Nation? Do you often look at art and see emojis?
Nastya Nudnik: Of course I do. Art is a huge part of my life, and I need to keep in touch with it constantly. Concerning Emoji Nation, I think that I gained sudden clarity. I adore pareidolia and apophenia effects, which are the tendency to see some meaningfulness in random things sometimes meaningless. Like seeing faces or silhouettes all around. Thus, I drew a parallel between emojis and High Art and made the first part of Emoji Nation.
DD: Do you think emoji is becoming a language? Will we ever communicate just in emoji, or learn how to "speak" emoji?
Nastya Nudnik: I’m sure it has become a language already. It’s much easier to put an eloquent yellow face than describe the same emotion with words. The internet has made communication way more rapid and "there’s no time to explain" anymore. Besides, telling the story with the help of emoji is super witty. I use this method to put descriptions under photos in instagram, for instance.
DD: Emoji Nation communicates feelings very simply – do you think that art should always be able to do that?
Nastya Nudnik: I think art's main duty is to "push the button" in people’s consciousness and release something hidden deeply in their hearts and minds. Art is made for inducing catharsis and it should be done by all means.
DD: You're Ukrainian - do you have an emoji that could accurately sum up the emotional state of your country?
Nastya Nudnik: Ukraine is experiencing extremely difficult times right now, I’m sure you've heard of Ukraine’s willingness to change the system, turn the page and gain freedom in all senses. Ukrainians feel the spirit of unity as never before, but we have so much work to do and so many things to get rid of, so the most appropriate emoji to show the emotional state of my country is the Ukrainian flag that is shocked by everything that is happening around it.