Ian Bogost at The Atlantic:
A boyfriend just going through the motions. A spouse worn into the rut of habit. A jetlagged traveler’s message of exhaustion-fraught longing. A suppressed kiss, unwelcome or badly timed. These were some of the interpretations that reverberated in my brain after I viewed a weird digital-art trifle by the Emoji Mashup Bot, a popular but defunct Twitter account that combined the parts of two emoji into new, surprising, and astonishingly resonant compositions. The bot had taken the hand and eyes from the 🥱 yawning emoji and mashed them together with the mouth from the 😘 kissing-heart emoji. That’s it. Compare that simple method with supposedly more sophisticated machine-learning-based generative tools that have become popular in the past year or so. When I asked Midjourney, an AI-based art generator, to create a new emoji based on those same two, it produced compositions that were certainly emojiform but possessed none of the style or significance of the simple mashup: a series of yellow, heart-shaped bodies with tongues sticking out.