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Rochester Institute of Technology

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A group of New York postmen set off on foot from the General Post Office to deliver mail in New York City at Christmas, circa 1955.

By Jonathan Sanger, NBC News

Published at 2:10 p.m. ET: The United States Postal Service announced on Wednesday that they will stop Saturday mail deliveries. Email and other forms of electronic communication have made a big dent in the Postal Service's bottom line. From its early start delivering mail on horseback to testing Segways on mail routes, the 273-year-old agency has evolved quite a bit since its beginning.

Marion Post Wolcott/U.S. Farm Security Administration; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A rural mailman travels up a creek bed toward Morris Fork near Jackson, Ky., in August 1940.; K. Ng rides a Segway on his mail route in July 2002 in San Francisco.

National Photo Co.; Scott Olson/Getty Images

Postal workers sort mail in a Washington, D.C., post office circa 1920.; Bobbi Crump moves mail on a conveyor at the USPS Chicago Logistics and Distribution Center in December 2012.

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Slideshow: U.S. Postal Service then and now

Orlando / Getty Images

Take a look at the how the USPS has evolved since its beginning.

Launch slideshow

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Some people create images to make a statement. Others, like Matt Wisniewski, do it because it looks pretty. “It’s mostly just aesthetic,” explains the 21-year-old computer science student of his spectral photo collages. “Whatever looks nice, really.”

Art for art’s sake is no new conceit. But Wisniewski has created a particularly successful iteration by overlaying portraits with organic patterns—from flowers to jagged peaks to a Rorschach blot. He came to the combination through experimentation. “It just sort of clicked,” he says. “Natural elements tend to be a little simpler and fit together a bit more obviously with the portraits than urban elements.”

The process begins with images from Tumblr and other online portfolios. A few experimental overlays later, Wisniewski lights on something that catches his eye. “I decide that I want to go further on it and then clean that up.”

For his image of a bearded man in a diaphanous red coat, Wisniewski found an overlay photo that “fit well and had a similar shape to his body.” Although many of his portraits eschew color, the red hue of the overlay image appealed to him. “I just thought it looked interesting.”

Matt Wisniewski

Untitled from "Cold Embrace," 2011

Whether he works on the face or body is also guided by aesthetic fancy. “Usually if I do something with their body it’s because it’s simple enough that I can just work over it,” he says. “Sometimes I see that covering up their face looks a little nicer than not.”

Wisniewski, who studies at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology, prefers Photoshop to a paintbrush. Yet despite his technical knowledge—he works as a web-developer in his spare time—he’s self-effacing about his tools. “[Photoshop] is a lot more forgiving,” than traditional media, he says. “I can easily fix mistakes or experiment with an idea and complete erase those changes if I feel they don’t fit.”

That isn’t to say he hasn’t tried drawing, painting and photography. Growing up in Philadelphia, Wisniewski applied his tinkering instincts to whatever was at hand. “I’ve created things for as long as I can remember, really. The collage is just sort of something that happened as a result of that.”

On the cusp of graduating and moving to Brooklyn, Wisniewski hopes to maintain his autotelic creed. “I honestly don’t think of anything I do as a hobby or not,” he says, emphasizing that he wants to keep up his web design alongside making collages. “I’m obviously going to continue doing this as long as I enjoy it. Hopefully that will be a long time.”

Matt Wisniewski is a student at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology. More of his work can be seen here.

Sonia van Gilder Cooke is a reporter in TIME’s London Bureau. Follow her on Twitter at @svangildercooke.

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About

Flipping Table emoticon (written as: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻) is a text-based emoticon depicting a person flipping a table out of rage. Primarily used by East Asian internet users to express rage, the emoticon became popular among Western internet users following its introduction through internationally popular online games.

Origin

The act of flipping a table out of anger has been typically associated with portrayal of frustrated fathers and husbands in fiction, TV shows as well as manga and anime series. In Japan, the trope is known as Flipping Tables or Return Tea Table (ちゃぶ台返し, Chabudai Gaeshi) which has been illustrated through characters like Ittetsu Hoshi in the 1968 manga/anime series “Star of the Giants” and Kantaro Terauchi from the 1975 sitcom series “Terauchi Kantaro’s Family."

The original instance and its first appearance on the web remains unknown, but the text-based emoticon most likely emerged in the early 1990s, along with the general style now we know as Japanese emoticons.

Spread

While the emoticon has been used by East Asian internet users for awhile, the Western adoption of the expression did not begin until the early 2000s during the expansion of Japanese media franchises and the rise of internationally popular multiplayer online games like Starcraft and World of Warcraft.

Usage in Starcraft

With the release of Starcraft II in 2010, the “table-flipping” emoticon continued to spread among Western players as it became frequently used to express anger or indicate that Ragequitting is imminent.

On Reddit

The emoticon became particularly notable among the English-speaking players in early July 2011, when several major video-streaming services for the popular e-Sport experienced downtime due to the waves of heavy distributed denial-of-service attacks.

Eventually, a Starcraft player and Reddit user johnelwaysteeth[1] channeled his frustration by posting the emoticon in the comments thread, which was met by positive reaction and upvotes on the link-sharing community. It also led to a number of duplicate posts containing the emoticon on Reddit.

Variations

There are several known variations stemming from the original emoticon:

  • (ノಥ益ಥ)ノ ┻━┻
  • ┬──┬ ¯\_(ツ)
  • ┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻
  • ┻━┻ ︵ ¯\(ツ)/¯ ︵ ┻━┻
  • ┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)

*

(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

Image Macros

The “table-flipping” action can be also conveyed in the format of photographs and cartoons:


IRL Organized Table Flipping

On November 11th, 2011, the Society of Software Engineers at Rochester Institute of Technology organized a real life table-flipping event[3] for students to “relieve stress” from finals week. They advertised the event on the RIT subreddit[4], stating that an empty table would be free to flip, one place setting would cost $1, and two place settings would cost $2.

Google insights

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Emoticons

[2] Reddit – Starcraft -(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

[3]RIT Events Calendar – SSE Flips Tables

[4] Reddit – (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ Next to the Tiger Statue Friday (11/11/11)

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