Visit What May Be the Smallest Gallery in the World

It's like #emojiarthistory got a gallery show.

Image via Twitter @thetinygallery.
Image via Twitter @thetinygallery.

Three men stand in an art gallery, looking out at us, while on the wall behind them hang two paintings, one showing a trio of suburban homes on grassy lawns, and one showing an iconic desert island with a single palm tree basking in the sun. Another white-cube space is inhabited only by two lonely landscapes, one showing the Eiffel Tower, one that same desert island.

These wee venues exist only on Twitter, and all the people and the art are created from the same emoji that you text to your friends. The art spaces make use of dashes, vertical bars, and spaces to create the walls, floors, and ceiling.

The diminutive rooms make up the Tiny Gallery, a Twitter bot launched just this month by Emma Winston, a musician, sound artist, and PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London. Just over a hundred tweets have attracted a thousand followers so far. She created the project for an emoji-themed installment of a monthly competition staged by the website Botwiki. It took her about an hour, she told artnet News via email, using a platform called Cheap Bots Done Quick.

“I am quite drawn to the idea of rendering ‘high art,’ or at least stuff alluding to it, on platforms meant for bite-sized mass consumption like Twitter,” she told artnet News via email.

In another diminutive art space, the artist, or perhaps a curator, has apparently commissioned a dance performance. Before a wall hung with a landscape and a painting of a rainbow, several observers stand around as a woman in a red dress does a high kick. In the next tweet, another dancer has joined her, while the visitors from the previous tweet have moved on, replaced by others.

Some of the emoji recall the work of specific artists, a phenomenon that has also given rise to the #emojiarthistory trend.

A factory icon, for example, suddenly becomes an image by Bernd and Hilla Becher. The Statue of Liberty emoji could be a silkscreen by Andy Warhol, and a mountainous landscape becomes a painting by Fredric Edwin Church—or an Ansel Adams photograph.

Those are, she says, “entirely happy accidents.”

Various artists have brought their creative talents to bear on the popular emoji. Yung Jake uses them to create celebrity portraits, while Hyo Hong has created emoji using Cindy Sherman’s many faces. Kamran Kastle, for instance, took to Kickstarter to support his project of translating the entire Bible into emoji.

It’s not clear whether the establishments we’re visiting at the Tiny Gallery are museums or galleries. We don’t see any guards, whose presence would suggest the former. And as with most commercial galleries, there’s no price list in sight.

The artist is content with that ambiguity, she says.

“A cop-out answer, but a true one,” she wrote: “the gallery is whatever you want it to be.”


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