Critical Reflection

For the past 13 weeks, Briana and I have been working towards a media arts project that encompasses the concept of futures through language. We wanted to look at the emergence of the newly found technological language of emojis and how this has affected the way we communicate on daily bases.

Our project started out as a recreation of Nastya Ptichek‘s work, who created a five-part series crossing the digital with classical stylings of art. This became the centerpiece of our final project, as her work incorporated emojis. However, continuing on this path meant that we were losing sight of our initial question that we wanted to ask our audience.



We wanted our project to reflect the question “how we communicate with one another?” through the use of technology, specifically the emoji language and how that has affected how we communicate now. This concept then became heavily influenced by McLuhan’s ‘the medium is the message’:

“This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” ~McLuhan

We looked at different ways to make this work and found video was our best bet, as it allowed us to capture every detail. After we had decided we wanted to create a video, we hit a creative wall. We didn’t know where to take the project or what type of communication to explore. However, after discussing our ideas with Jo we realised we wanted to explore everyday situations that may occur and incorporate emojis into that type of speech.

We started out by looking at our own messaged and tried to convert them into emoji form, however, found that they had on “plot” line or any engaging component that would keep the audience engaged with our piece. From here we decided to look at a popular sitcom Friends, as our first form of experimentation.

We looked at one of the most commonly known episodes and attempted to translate it into emoji form. Then with our best acting skills, we filmed the newly form script and edited it together with the original lines as subtitles. To be honest, Briana and I were not pleased with what we created but needed a stepping stone to move forward with. However, to our surprise, we were told that our acting alongside the translations worked really well and kept the audience engaged, as they tried to decipher what was going on.

Our project took on multiple iterations, some good and some that we were not proud of, stirring off the main path we wanted to go and blurring our main question. However, I think our final piece encompasses what we wanted to achieve in an unexpected way. We looked at a situation we were familiar with, retail, and looked at the type of conversations that are typically had in that environment, between employees and between customers and employees, creating the sense of confusion a little more within that typical environment.

All in all, I think our project effectively illustrates our main questions of how we communicate with each other in a very abstract way. However, I do believe with a little more time and more research into types of conversations we could expand the work to use a variety of conversations types as well as improvising our own conversations to make it look more genuine.


Week 13: Coming to an end

This week we looked at our space and how we wanted to display our final work. At first, we were looking at a corridor effect, by having two screens on either side of the room and a chair in the middle of the room with a spotlight directing the audience to sit and engage with the piece.

However, we found that this confused the audience, as they would only look at one screen and not understand what was happening unless instructed of the situation. We quickly dismissed this idea and moved towards a single screen work with a split screen. This helps the audience see both side of the conversation as well as showcase the reaction of the other side person.


The split screen effect we decided to go for.


The set-up we had, using chairs to give the audience a chance to sit and actually engage with the work. 

Our main concern was the content we had created based on retail experience. We had created a scene to experiment with taken from the Australian YouTube series ‘Rostered On’.

The feedback we received from this experiment was that the dialogue was too fast and needed to be slowed down so the audience had more time to process what was being said. Our facial expressions weren’t as prominent as they were during our first iteration of the work. The first time we created content for this project our facial expression were more visible and connected with the audience more. We realised this was due to it being a ‘Friends’ clip, a show we had watched so many times before and knew the reactions of each character.


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Our first iteration, with more facial expressions. 


We needed to reincorporate the overacting part into our work. There was also mention of the lighting in the video. Last week the video we showed used a black background with light only focusing on the individuals face.

Giving a floating head effect.


Jo mentioned that it would be better to stick to a subtle background like the black on black to stop the audience being distracted by the light or background.

Over the next few weeks, Briana and I will reshoot our footage, slowing it down and reacting more to make it more engaging. Taking the notes and suggestions made today and in previous weeks to alter our content for the final work.

Week 12: Playing with space

This week we played with the display of our work rather than the content itself. Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of the work, however, the set up had two screens on either side of the room with 2 projectors playing both sides of the conversation.

We found that we had too much space with this set up making is unclear to the viewer that there were, in fact, two screens that should be looked at. Another suggestion was made about the content of the view we had created. To Mat and Jo is seemed less enthusiastic than what we had previously and strayed away from the uncertainty we wanted to create. The theme of this video was “office talk”, we used a scene from The Office US and translated it into the emoji language. However, it wasn’t clear what the conversation was about and became too mundane once the emoji for a fax machine was mentioned.

For the content, we discussed using our own experiences of the workplace and using them to explore the emoji language in the retail space.

From this feedback, we have decided to create different situations for the video and see which fits best with what we want to create. But also what allows the audience to think about what they are watching. We are also going to play around with the spatial element, making it smaller so the audience knows what is going on.

Week 11: Thinking about space

This week we recorded our new script and projected it up onto the screen. As we have done in previous weeks.



However, we have reached a roadblock as we’re not sure how to move forward with our idea and concept from this moment in time. We have deemed that our content is good, needing only minor adjustments towards the quality of sound and visual components.

From here we decided to look at different ways we could present it rather than trying to change our content.

We spoke to Jasmine who suggested we could display our project on two screens across from each other with a spotlight in the middle of the screens pointing to a chair. The two screens would allow for the conversational styling of the work to become more prominent and would allow the audience to sit down and become more involved in the work rather than just watching a single screen work.

After this discussion, we have decided that next week we would play around with the spacial element in regards to our work. Seeing if displaying it in different ways will give off different meanings and change the way the work is seen.

Week 10: An Eye on the Process, An Eye on the Project.

After discussion about last weeks attempts of showcasing emoji language in different mediums such as short stories and poetry. We came to the conclusion that it did not have the same effect as using a conversational piece had. The stories and poetry became too cluttered and uneasy to read and comprehend. It also left too much subjective thinking for the audience who may not know what was going on if they hadn’t heard about it or read the artist statement.

From this analysis, we decided to stick to more conversational piece of writing. However, being unable to write our own interesting conversations without being to clique, we decided to stick with dialogue already produced from our favourite TV shows.

We looked at Friends, Seinfeld and The Office. We decided to look at The Office, following a conversation with Jo about people in the office environment using emojis within the workplace to the ends of their emails and sentences to sound more “friendly”.

This is what we came up with:

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This is what we’ll record next week and see how we can change and improve it.

Week 9: Iterate and Collaborate

After breaking down the suggestions made last week by Matt, Jo and the class, Briana and I decided to try a few different experiments to further establish what was working, what wasn’t working and what we could possibly blend together for our major work.

This week we played with the idea of having a narrative, we look at various different short stories and speeches to help us out with this. The first experiment that we looked at was ‘The Cat In The Hat’, we had taken 4 different pages from the book and translated them into a emoji language. From the feedback, we were given last week, we decided to keep the words on the page and use the audio to host translation.


The second experiment we looked at was a translation of wedding vows in emoji form. We projected an image of a couple taking their vows with an audio recording of the emoji translation done by an automated voice on the computer.


The feedback we got from these two experiments, told us that we needed more of a dialogue between the translation and the original text. This was highly evident in our work we presented last week. It was established that what we had produced today lacked communication with our core question, and was stirring away from what we wanted to do.

We came to an understanding that our work from last week was stronger than what we had produced today. The video of us describing the emojis with more emotion captivated the audience more than just using a monotone voice.

From this, we have decided to continue on with what worked from our first iteration, we will look at more conversational pieces and stick with our video, which conveyed more emotion and depth than just a single voice and an image. For the next couple of weeks, Briana and I will look for various different conversational piece and see how we can translate them. We were also considering looking at common phrases used by people in a passive-aggressive way and adding emojis to the ends of the phrases to create a contrast within the dialogue itself.


Week 8: Development and Discussion

This week Briana and I set up the video we had proposed in our project pitch. We played around with the idea of creating a dialog through emojis with our own conversations but found that it didn’t have the flow we needed for a coherent conversation.

From this, we decided to pick a scene from the popular sitcom ‘Friends: The One With Ross’ New Girlfriend’, and translated it into emoji form. This is what we were left with:

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Within the editing process, we decided that we could have subtitles of the actual lines instead of the emoji’s we had been saying as the lines translations. We found that using the emojis on-screen made the piece a bit tacky and didn’t give the audience much time to engage with the piece.

Once we put up the video, Briana and I found elements which we didn’t like and weren’t too sure of. However, to our surprise, Matt liked the idea and concept behind the video and saw great potential in the project.However, to our surprise, Matt liked the idea and concept behind the video and saw great potential in the project.


From our own observations and suggestions made by the class, we have decided that in order to project this work further we will try different ways of displaying the emoji conversation for next week and see which ones work and which could be used in conjunction with one another to create the final piece. We discussed looking into displaying the conversation or short story through photos to give a ‘walk through’ effect for the audience with the audio playing through speakers above the images.

We have come up with a few ideas, which we wish to test out next week, these include the use of a picture book or stories with narratives:

  • Using images from a picture book but having the audio track read out in emojis

We may try playing with emojis on screen to see what kind of reaction we get from the audience before totally disregarding that element.

  • Audio of story but emojis on the screen
  • Text messages of a story in the form of emojis
  • Pictures on the wall of the scene with emojis replacing the words of children stories with an audio track of the actual words