How is meaning changed by context and typgraphy - in art, emoji and language via Unicode unicode at
Tue Mar 31 13:22:37 CDT 2020

I received a circulated email from MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New 
York. I am, at my request, on their mailing list.

There is a link to a web page.

There is a video embedded in the web page, 8 minutes.

I watched the video and found it interesting.

There is one part where two identical images each have a different 

I noticed that both titles were in English.

With typography today it has become almost obligatory these days for a 
proposal for a new emoji character to become encoded, for the emoji 
character to be suggested as having multiple possible meanings, possibly 
linked to context, or maybe just anyway.

The beginnings of this phenomenon and the problems of ambiguity of 
meaning of emoji characters was discussed in a talk at the Unicode 
conference in 2015.

There was mention of the possibility of "precise emoji".

Yet these days  imprecision of emoji meaning has become widespread. Yet 
has the possibility of QID emoji brought back the possibility of precise 
emoji? Decoding could be to an image, or to language-localized speech or 
language-localized text, or even all three at once. Yet only if QID 
emoji are allowed to flourish, perhaps after a few careful modifications 
to the original proposal so as to minimize, or at least limit, the 
possibility of encoding chaos.

I have long been fascinated by what I regard as subtle changes of 
meaning that setting a piece of text in different fonts produces, though 
some other people opine that the meaning is unchanged, regardless of the 

  Also, can some meanings not be expressed from one language to another? 
If so, is that due to the nature of the languages or the culture where 
the original text was produced, or some of each. Does the general shape 
of the way that a particular script has developed reflect, or influence, 
the original literature written in that script? Do words that rhyme in 
one language produce imagery that does not arise in a language where 
their translations do not rhyme? For example, boaco and erinaco rhyme In 
Esperanto, yet their translations in English, reindeer and hedgehog, do 
not rhyme.

The art works in the MoMA video also reminded me of something that was 
in this mailing list probably in the early 2000s.

The post was about translations linked to an art project.

It was an art project about some orange blocks and people were taking 
photographs of art works where one of the orange blocks was presented in 
some context.

Maybe it was a student project, I don't know.

I have looked on the web and thus far found nothing about it, not even 
the original post in this mailing list thus far.

Since then technology has changed a lot, much more is now possible for 
more people. There are now widespread emoji, there is Google street 
view, and so on.

New art possibilities.

Does anyone else remember the orange blocks please? Maybe an interesting 
stepping stone in the history of art.

William Overington

Tuesday 31 March 2020

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