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Shoei Matsuda, The Big Flat Now, 2022. Installation view at Dubai Festival City Mall, Sept

In an era hyper-saturated with information and content, marked by instantaneous social media reshares, what does it mean to create art?

About the Artwork

Artist: Shōei Matsuda

Curator: Sophie Mayuko Arni

Title: The Big Flat Now

Dates: September 5 - 30, 2023

Venue: Dubai Festival City Mall, Festival Square

Organization: Global Art Daily Agency

Presented by: Dubai Festival City Mall / Al-Futtaim Malls

Starting September 5th, 2023, Japanese artist Shōei Matsuda will premiere his first installation in the UAE, a supersized emoji balloon entitled The Big Flat Now, presented at Dubai Festival City Mall and curated by Global Art Daily Agency.

The introduction of emojis, a Japanese invention from the 1990s, has given people across the world the opportunity to connect over a common visual language. 


Inspired by the wide usage of emojis, Japanese artist Shōei Matsuda has created a monumental emoji sculpture based on the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji, the most used emoji of the past decade according to a global survey


Hosted at Dubai Festival City Mall, this marks the first time The Big Flat Now is exhibited outside Japan. Engineered to go viral, this artwork is accompanied by a specially-made Instagram AR filter. Scan to become part of the movement.


Source of the emoji: Twemoji Open Source. Graphics licensed under CC-BY 4.0. 

Scan for AR Filter

Shōei Matsuda, Artist

My work celebrates a decade of human emotion: the laughing-crying emoji brings two opposite feelings together.
The Role of Art in Public Spaces: Shopping Malls, Social Interactions, and Digital Activations
The Role of Art in Public Spaces: Shopping Malls, Social Interactions, and Digital Activations
05 Sep 2023, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Dubai Festival City Mall,
Crescent Rd - مدينة مهرجان دبي - دبي فيستيفال سيتي - دبي - United Arab Emirates

Celebrating the inauguration of Japanese artist Shoei Matsuda’s massive installation The Big Flat Now at Dubai Festival City Mall, this Artist Talk is a cross-cultural dialogue that aims to highlight the role of authenticity and participation of public artworks in the UAE, zooming into the local context of shopping malls in Dubai. While the artist will offer insights into his digital art practice and the historical impact of Japanese emojis, the discussion will also provide the perspectives of Emirati researcher Rana AlMutawa on the social functions of shopping malls within Emirati populations. The discussion will be moderated by Sophie Mayuko Arni, curator of The Big Flat Now and founder of Global Art Daily Agency, and will end with reflections on Dubai’s ability to attract viral social media content and the role of contemporary art in public urban spaces. Talk open through RSVP and by invitation only. There will be a live Japanese-English translation.


Previous Iterations

Shōei Matsuda, The Big Flat Now, 2022. Installation view at Tokyo Midtown (Roppongi Art Night 2022), Tokyo, Japan. Courtesy of Roppongi Art Night and the artist.

Shōei Matsuda, The Big Flat Now, 2022. Installation view at Hotel ACAO (Atami Art Grant 2022), Shizuoka, Japan. Courtesy of the Atami Art Grant and the artist.

Shōei Matsuda, The Big Flat Now, 2022. Installation view at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa (It knows: When Forms Become Mind, 8 April - 5 November 2023), Kanazawa, Japan. Courtesy of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa and the artist.

The 'Face with Tears of Joy'
is the most used emoji of the past decade.

With the rise of accessibility to knowledge and the democratization of data, the landscape of artistry, authority, and authenticity has undergone a transfiguration that subverts hegemonic concepts surrounding art and technology. Engineered to be viral, Matsuda’s piece features a 3D production of a popular 2D image.


What is an emoji?

The term “emoji” literally translates to “picture-character”. Shigetaka Kurita is credited with the creation of emojis, when he designed 176 emoji as part of the Japanese brand’s NTT Docomo's i-mode in 1999. Inspired by the manpu featured in Japanese manga, Kurita’s emojis were meant to assist with communication, providing, in essence, “a guide” for users. 


A celebration of the Internet 

Matsuda’s introduction to art started in 2010, when he created an anonymous Twitter account that shared news information in Japan. The account garnered 300K followers, which allowed Matsuda to understand the mechanics behind something going viral, as well as recognize the weight of something’s circulation value. Today, the artist remains faithful to these ideas while creating art. 

About the Title

The title of Matsuda's artwork is a reference to Jack Self's article "THE BIG FLAT NOW: Power, Flatness, and Nowness in the Third Millennium" for 032c Issue 34 (Summer 2018), a Berlin-based magazine for fashion, culture, and art in the 21st century. Self argues that the "flatness" of the internet has fundamentally altered how we experience time, space, exchanges of information, and society. 

Screenshot from "THE BIG FLAT NOW: Power, Flatness, and Nowness in the Third Millennium", 032c Issue 34 (Summer 2018).

Team Credits

Curator: Sophie Mayuko Arni

Curatorial Assistant: Natalia Ulloa

Graphic Design: Saba Sayfaiee

Photography and Videography: Anant Singh

About the Artist

Shōei Matsuda (b.1986, Japan) is a post-internet artist based in Tokyo, Japan. Through his installations, sculptures, prints, and videos, Matsuda's work explores themes centering around technology, social media, and celebrity economies. He began his career in social media in 2010, garnering attention in Japan as an anonymous artist with an active Twitter newsfeed account. After moving to Berlin in 2014, he became active with collaborative events, instructions, and performances, questioning subjectivity and authorship of the post-social media era and creating new communities by directly intervening in cities and society. 


His work has been exhibited both in Japan and internationally, including in Austria, Germany, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic. Some of his notable solo exhibitions include "The Laughing Man Store" at Shibuya PARCO, Tokyo, "Extreme Conceptual" at Eukaryote, Tokyo, and "Magic Number" at TOH, Tokyo. Shōei has also participated in group exhibitions such as "It knows: When Forms Become Mind" at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan and "ATAMI ART GRANT" at Hotel ACAO in Atami, Japan. In 2016, Shōei received the Prix Ars Electronica Awards of Distinction and was selected for the ISEA Hong Kong. He has also co-authored works such as "A Field Guide to the Snowden Files" in Germany and "Cyberarts 2016" in Austria.

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