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50 shades of happiness

C-prints on aluminum backing
4 x 4 in (10 x 10 cm) each 


50 shades of happiness plays with emoticons and fonts to explore the expression and perceptions of human emotions in non-verbal communication.


Emoticons are combinations of punctuation marks and alphanumerics that, put in a certain order, create pictograms of human faces, mimicking offline facial expressions. Key aspect of nonverbal speech, they take the place of body language in text-based speech to complement words and help people interpret the emotions not captured by language elements alone.


In the installation, the artiste appropriates the symbolic and visual representation of the “sideways smiley face” - combination of two punctuation marks used to express a state of happiness - to explore the different affects and perceptions of an emotion in the virtual world. By changing font, the “face” of the emoticon changes too; subtle emotional distinctions emerge in the viewer’s perception of the “:)” normative form. While denoting the same meaning, its affect changes.

More than a universal expression of an emotion, the emoticon become a virtual facial expressions whose contexts and sentiments varies from one font to the other, one person to the other.

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