SFMOMA Will Text You Back, Unlike That Crush of Yours

Soothe the soul with works of art and emojis.

If you’re a human with a smartphone, then you probably tap your phone’s screen every couple of minutes to double check if anyone has texted you, maybe definitely that Tinder match whose number you just scored? Well, when no one is responding to your texts, there’s now someone who always will – the SFMOMA. (Bear with us, we’ll explain.)

The SFMOMA has some 35,000 artworks and according to them, we see maybe 5% of the actual works in the museum’s limited space. So the museum’s creative technologist, Jay Mollica, and his team curated something so 21st century to expose us to more of their collection: when you text 572-51 beginning with the words “send me” followed by your favorite emoji, color, or keyword, an artbot will send you a related piece of artwork and a caption giving you the work’s title, artist, and date, from the museum’s database. Essentially you can learn some art history while you chuckle out loud to yourself on your BART ride. So, when you can’t make it to the museum, you can still experience a personal connection to the SFMOMA’s diverse selection of art and appreciate the value of artistic outreach that the museum is working diligently to fulfill—and in a creative way, nonetheless. 

The Bob Cut team tried a few texts to see what came up: “Send me rain” gave us Todd Webb’s ‘Quai du Louvre, Paris, France’ (1975), and “Send me 🌈” resulted in Martin Parr’s a ‘Untitled [cookie with sprinkles] from the series British Food’ (1995). Since the museum staff worked tirelessly to tag works with relatable keywords and emojis, the results are much more unique than regular computer vision. And even if the database is experiencing a glitch, it will let you know instantly! Or, if it can’t find what you’re looking for, the artbot might throw you some other suggestions instead. Who knows, maybe you’ll find texting with the SFMOMA artbot to be much more gratifying than with that flaky Tinder match.

// SFMOMA is also hosting a slew of summer exhibitions you can see IRL; check out the July through September works on display here.

SFMOMA Will Text You Back, Unlike That Crush of Yours
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