smiling face withface is a tumblr bot I made that generates and posts glitchy versions of emoji, based on the open-source SVG files released as part of Twitter’s twemoji project. A Python program selects an emoji SVG file at random, adjusts the markup and numbers in the SVG file, and (optionally) recombines the paths in the selected SVG with paths from other emoji SVG files. The results are posted to Tumblr.
Emoji is among the most successful symbol systems in the history of writing, and it’s coming close to achieving the universal success envisioned by the likes of Blissymbols and Isotype. My “glitched” emoji are intended to bring to the surface the material nature of emoji, so we can better understand what it means to communicate with one another using them.
I made this for a few reasons. One of the main suggestions that people have for Library of Emoji is that there should, you know, be actual EMOJI that correspond to the randomly-generated names. Of course, there’s no easy way to do that computationally (at least in a way that I think would satisfy me from an aesthetic standpoint). But when Twitter released their twemoji files, I instantly knew I wanted to do something with them. I had already been working on a little script to mash-up Google’s Material Design Icons, so I repurposed it for the twemoji files and let it run. I was happy with the results. Darius suggested that I make the bot post to Tumblr (instead of Twitter), which I think was a great suggestion, given the visual nature of the bot. (Though you can follow the bot on Twitter as well, if you’d like.)
Occasionally, the bot will post a “conversation” (between two unnamed entities using, I presume, iOS devices equipped with glitch-emoji capabilities), so you can see what the emoji might look like in context.
The names are generated from a database of Unicode codepoint names, mangled with a little library of functions I’ve been working on.