U+0000: Icons of the Rijksmusem


An encyclopedia-style book investigating the Rijksmuseum and emoji


WHEN: 2019

WHO: Produced in Collaboration with Nienke Temmink


Emoji and the collection of the Rijksmuseum seem to exist in different worlds. One is fast and digital and the other physical and historical. However, this book reveals the many parallels that traverse physical and digital collections. The book acts as a playful tool to read and interpret the artworks of the Rijksmuseum more closely and examine their symbolic meanings.


‘U+0000: Icons of the Rijksmuseum’ is the result of field-research in the Rijksmuseum in which we searched for “emoji” in the works on display from their collection. Through this exercise, emoji became a tool for examining the museum, and, in turn, the Rijksmuseum became a tool for examining emoji. The book captures the strange patterns, surprising gaps and politically charged narratives. For instance, there are seven types of boat emoji 🛥️🚣⛵🚢🛳️⛴️🚤 (which we repeatedly saw throughout the museum, as the boat is a symbol of Dutch colonisation and power) but no lighthouse emoji. There was a consistent pattern of whiteness within the museum, captured in the index of the book. 


We aimed to playfully encourage audiences to read paintings in new ways and consider the power and potency of visual languages.


The title of the book references the codepoint for Null of Nothing: ‘U+0000’, commenting on the fact that both of these collections started from a blank slate. We aimed to highlight the inconsistencies and biases of visual collections and the potential agency we have to interrogate and affect them.