Go on, name all these expressions. (btw, not my artwork- belongs to njay of deviantart)

In an effort to clean the desktop on my desktop computer I sat down the other day and did some digital filing. The biggest and most neglected area of filing was a folder simply labeled “Photos” in which I had collected several years with of images curated from the internet for one reason or another. I keep a photo “morgue” for visual reference materials. A Photo Morgue: that’s really the technical word for it: it’s not just me being morbid.

Anyway, I keep this photo morgue in an external hard drive and within the containing folder are a series of subfolders: location interiors, location exteriors, lighting, general poses, central casting ( stock characters), people and poses ( particular characters from various projects), etc. The folder that always gives me the most difficulty, though, is Expressions.

Expressions is a folder for both facial expressions and bodily attitudes. It is half made up of faces that I’ve collected because they are useful and half faces that were just too good to pass up. The problem comes with trying to organize these expressions by feeling. The expressions certainly convey emotion, but not always a pure one. What do you call the puffed up face of an Olympic diver caught mid flip? How do you draw the line between the scared shock of a kid confronted by a giant insect vs the delighted shock of someone noticing cream filled pastries? Lumping them together under a generic heading like “surprise” hardly seems more useful that scanning through all the photos in a preview window.

Trying to organize expressions has taught me two things: first that the human face is capable of conveying a blindingly complex rainbow of expressive information for which we do not have adequate vocabulary resources to articulate, and second that it is the internet that seems to be making the most headway in finding labels for many of these subtleties. I found myself labeling folders after memes like “derp”, “parp” and “donotwant!” “bitch,please” and “OMG yes/no”. 


I have to wonder if this strange don’t of expressive wording comes from the fact that the internet is a largely toneless medium in which emotions are reduced to emoticons, gifs, and memes, and when particular memes catch the attention of the zeitgeist it provides an easy reference point for an otherwise indescribable expression. I also have to think that the prevalence of images on the internet makes it easy to pair a word with an expression- “parp” on its own means nothing, but “parp” with the original illustration says it all.


Parp= "park" pronounced by a child recovering from anesthesia ( also not my art- belongs to Hyperbole and a Half)

At any rate, I found it interesting to discover that the internet is good for something besides porn after all.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 12, 2016.

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