Twenty one years ago a Japanese designer, Shigetaka Kurita, created a series of 176 colourful digital pictographs—just three millimetres high. He called them ‘Emoji.’
In 2019, John MacLean discovered digitally enlargeable emoji—and started combining them with his large-scale inkjet photographs. He calls these ‘Emojigraphs.’
In the resulting series, Conversations, the lingua francas of photography and Emoji coalesce in flash-lit interior photographs of London. Here, Kurita’s familiar Japanese pictographs offer the viewer a pop point-of-reference and thus an easy route in. But they also enable MacLean to fill the rooms he has photographed with readymade trees, mountains, waterfalls, planets and cities—setting inviting, but incongruous, scenes that could not have come into existence any other way.