Blooming sunflowers on stone walls, mosaic flowers and swimming carps on stairs, wing of lost angel next to a house—these beautiful pictures of Ihwa Mural Village initially lured me into visiting. On my actual visit, however, it was not the cute little paintings on the wall that greeted me but aggressive messages painted in a violent red color by an angry villager— “The Rights to Rest”; “We Are Not Monkeys in the Cage”.
The nineteenth-century is characterised by an energy for, and an enthusiasm about, the representational which has outstripped anything before, or indeed since, in its general range and basic inventiveness. During a handful of decades the representational was, to an unprecedented degree, mechanised, democratised, popularised, and humanised. For instance, the mechanisation of the representational is most readily pegged out between markers such as the discovery of photography in the 1830’s; the first recording of sound in 1877; and the invention of wireless and cinematography in the 1890’s.[i]
“Tech analysts estimate that over six billion emojis are sent each day.” It is safe to say that emojis have a big involvement in the way we visually communicate. Just as all language and communication requires a certain level of translation and interpretation this is also true for emojis. I have a fun story to illustrate how I first became aware of this reality.
In the 1970s and 1980s, young activists discovered video as a new medium and used moving images in their struggle for access to cultural expression for the many, not the few. They were researching and developing new forms of independent and participatory media work – an important step towards realizing the utopian promises of the digital age.