Artist “vandalises” Snapchat and Jeff Koon’s AR sculpture

New York's Sebastian ErraZuriz is protesting the "imminent AR corporate invasion”

Thomas McMullan
6 Oct 2017
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A partnership was announced this week between Snapchat and US artist Jeff Koons, with the latter’s sculptures transformed into augmented reality (AR) artworks, pinned to tourist hotspots across the globe.

It has now emerged that New York-based artist Sebastian ErraZuriz has created a digital intervention, in what he’s pitched as “a symbolic stance against imminent AR corporate invasion”.

As reported by It’s Nice That, ErraZuriz and his Cross Lab studio have “vandalised” the AR version of Koon’s Balloon Dog based in New York’s Central Park. They created an identical 3D model, covering it in graffiti, and geo-located it to the specific coordinates of Snapchat’s effort.

“It is vital to start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies,” he told the site.

“Once we begin experiencing the world predominantly through AR, our public space will be dominated by corporate content designed to subconsciously manipulate and control us. […] Swift responses to create awareness and invite discussion are imperative to such milestone initiatives. If Snapchat X Jeff Koons [is] the first to create a geo-tagged augmented reality artwork, we will be the first to vandalise it as a way to question its legitimacy.”

Given the need for viewers to use Snapchat to see Koon’s sculpture, Errasszuriz’ intervention won’t replace Koon’s dog. Cross Lab is, however, creating a separate, free app called ARNYC that’ll give New Yorker’s a chance to see alternative AR artworks. 

The original story continues below...

Snapchat has launched a new augmented-reality project in collaboration with American artist Jeff Koons, of giant balloon animal and kitsch Michael Jackson statue fame.

If you head over to art.snapchat.com, you'll find one of Koon's shiny balloon dogs plonked in New York’s central park. It turns out this is a digital version of the artist’s work, geo-mapped to a specific location. Much like Pokémon Go, users will need to go to physical places and see the area through their smartphone’s camera lens.

"Discover Koons’s innovative digital installations scattered across the world to experience them for yourself," a blurb reads, followed by a list of places across the world where users can use the Snapchat app to see AR replicas of Koons' sculptures.

Snapchat has already made a push into augmented reality, adding real-time AR camera effects to its toolset earlier in the year. These let the user pick from a selection of 3D objects and overlay them onto the real world, as seen through the screen of their handset. The Koons' collaboration also includes a link for artists to submit links to their work, suggesting Snapchat intends to broaden its collection of AR artworks.

The collaboration also comes in the midst of Apple and Google’s efforts to create a comprehensive augmented-reality platform, with ARKit and ARCore respectively. While Koons is a big name in the art world, these technologies have already attracted the attention of numerous artists. The recent AND Festival, for example, included an area dedicated to augmented-reality artwork by a handful of Mexican artists.   

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