Until 1999, language was severely limited. Even the most lexically gifted writer couldn’t communicate the complete breadth of human experience. That is, until emojis were unveiled. That fateful day, human communication gained a new dimensionality. Now, learn the history of the modern hieroglyph that changed our world with the new Emoji book from Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth.
The original 176-symbol emoji alphabet was created by Shigetaka Kurita of the Japanese telecommunications giant NTT DOCOMO in 1999. It was largely based on the pictograms that dapple Japan’s city streets, offering direction for subway trains, restaurants, bathrooms and other places and things that can be comprehensibly condensed into pictographic symbols for pedestrians. The name emoji doesn’t actually refer to emotions, it derives from a combination of the Japanese “e,” which refers to pictures, and “moji,” meaning “character.” The book chronicles the ancestral emojis that Shigetaka Kurita chiseled into our hearts and minds. The pages feature pictures of the original 176, as well as essays from Kurita himself, and from New York’s MOMA’s senior curators Paola Antonelli and Paul Galloway. All of this imagery and language is bound in a beautiful lime green design, a color-choice which references a time-honored Japanese book-making process. The book also comes with a download of the original 176-pictogram alphabet, so you can text like its 1999.
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