I came across Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo’s painting “The Fourth State” a few times in my life as part of my Art History studies, and though it is regarded as one of the most iconic paintings of the twentieth century, I never quite felt much appreciation for it despite its social meaning and craft. Nevertheless, I found a high-res scan of it on the web and stored it for “a rainy day kind of thing”. In 2016, after having resisted the impulse to purchase a smart phone for years, mainly in fear of becoming one of so many Izombies you see everywhere, I finally buckled down and got myself one of these gadgets, mainly for work reasons, which at the time meant getting a Whatsapp account.

To my surprise, I was introduced to the wonderful and shallow world of emoticons and screwed my days away adding them in all of my communications, mostly in self amusement. Sometimes I tried to only use emoticons instead of words, just to see if I could reinvent some modern hieroglyphic language but mostly to irritate and provoke a reaction in those who were patient enough to get my game and go tit-4-tat or quid-pro-quo with me. Needless to say, the amusement didn’t last for long. Yet, I became very well versed in emoticons and their meaning. On another front, I started to become quite aware of how AI is shaping the future of employment and somehow wanted to say something about it through my artwork, but in all honesty, I couldn’t visualize this particular thought process. I guess this is where the original painting behind this revisitation comes in. Personally, it created the foundation on which I could integrate these new concepts: emoticon communication and automation in order to say something about our society. Something like: “while we keep busy with mind numbing behaviour, one day soon AI will take over”.

To see more from my Vandalisms and Schisms campaign for The Art Store click here.

“Working-class poor: better keep your alarm set
Streets too loud to ever hear freedom ring
Say evacuate your sleep, it’s dangerous to dream
For ch-ching, cats get the “cha-pow!” You dead now
Killing fields need blood to graze the cash cow
It’s a numbers game, but shit don’t add up somehow
This New Math is whipping motherfuckers’ ass
You want to know how to rhyme you better learn how to add it’s mathematics…”

Mos Def | Mathematics