Emotive Images

Digital visual cultures come with an abundance of more playful, ironic, and emotive imagery, such as GIFs, memes, and emojis. Just as we have studied the prominence of cat videos in the first edition of Video Vortex, we grant importance to this playful side of digital visual culture. GIFs and memes can be tools in research and education. However, we want to free memes from their dominant use in culture wars and reclaim them as an expressive and tactical tool. Similarly, we would like to address cross-cultural emoji theory, design, and critique.

What started as a criticism of the unwillingness of Facebook to implement a dislike button, has grown into a realization of the larger emotional, cultural, and financial value of the emoji. This critical curiosity leads to a range of questions. How do users (knowingly or unknowingly) repurpose standardized features to circumvent limitations that go with button features? What are the unseen or suppressed emotions on a platform such as FB and Insta? Is it a masculine drive to measure something that’s hard to grasp? What habits of daily life do emoji promote? And are social media fit for the expression of sincerity in the first place?

In the context of Emotive Images, we are creating an educational toolkit. In eight knowledge clips, experts and activists present their ideas on the use and future of memes and emojis.