Tech

Artist holds protest by virtually vandalising Jeff Koons’ Snapchat artwork

Snapchat is trying to revitalise their brand by collaborating with renowned artist Jeff Koons – a partnership that has sparked the ire of other creators who’ve gone into the virtual realm to vandalise Koons’ work.

Now if that didn’t sound like a plot device out of a William Gibson novel that I don’t know what will.

Snap Inc. has been losing millions of dollars in revenue since its IPO early this year, and although it’s too early for the stock market to write them off, the continuous decrease in value over two straight quarters is a good reason for them to stay on their toes.

With 173 million daily users, the company’s problem is not being popular, it’s that they’re not growing as fast as investors want it to. In order to grow, Snapchat is investing an insane amount of money in marketing, and the results are, let’s say… weird.

They are launching a new Augmented Reality feature in hopes of boosting their user base. Snap users will be able to experience some of Jeff Koons’ balloon like sculptures projected on their phone screens at a number of famous settings like Paris’ Champ de Mars, New York’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park or Australia’s very own Sydney Opera House.

If you’re not familiar with Jeff Koons, he just happens to be one of the most well-known artists today. His work, which revolves around representations of popular iconography in various mediums, has been featured not only in the most prestigious modern art galleries of the world but also in public spaces from Bilbao to Washington.

In 2013, his The Balloon Dog (Orange) was sold for $58.4 million, turning into the most expensive artwork by a living artist ever to sell at auction.

Sebastian Errazuriz and his studio Cross Lab are definitively not impressed, though. They consider the Snap/Koons partnership as an “imminent augmented reality corporate invasion” and have vandalised a 3D model of Koon’s Balloon Dog and placed it through Augmented Reality in Central Park.

The protest art is viewable through the art studio’s app ARNYC.

“More than protesting any potential artistic value that Balloon Dog might or might not have, I believe that this first geo-tagged AR ‘sculpture’ represents a technological and social milestone,” Errazuriz told Gizmodo.

“The first step of a future invasion of corporate 3D imagery designed to keep us entertained, dumbfounded and captive for a wave of new smart and subtle advertisements. I believe that it is therefore vital to open up a dialogue and start questioning now how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies.

He added: “Right now it all seems relatively innocent, Snapchat and other tech corporations are offering us ‘free’ services that we voluntarily join.

“Once we begin experiencing the world predominantly through Augmented Reality, our public space will already be dominated by corporate content designed to subconsciously manipulate and control us.”