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Snapchat recently launched a collaboration with Jeff Koons to showcase his iconic sculptures across the world using the platform’s augmented reality feature. But not all artists are thrilled with the idea.
On Wednesday New York-based artist Sebastian Errazuriz and his studio Cross Lab protested Snapchat’s latest attempt to woo users by vandalizing Koons’ Balloon Dog installation, which appears on the app in Central Park.
Errazuriz explained the new feature and protest on Instagram, writing, “It all seems fun, but I believe it is imperative we start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies.”
He went on to acknowledge his belief that in time “the boundaries between reality and virtual reality fade” and urged people to consider the potential that AR could lead to public spaces being “dominated by corporate content designed to subconsciously manipulate and control us.”
Errazuriz shared a photograph of Koons’ Central Park AR sculpture followed by his plan to vandalize it with the “first augmented reality graffiti bombing.” The following sketch and 3D digital model show Errazuriz hard at work spray painting short phrases like “NYC” and “Bang! Bang!” onto the golden balloon dog.
The final result? A graffiti-bombed version of the AR sculpture, which Errazuriz geo-tagged as the exact same GPS coordinates as Snapchat’s version. Game on. Though the protest art won’t be visible using Snapchat, Errazuriz created an independent app called ARNYC.NYC that people can use to see his alternative virtual artwork.
“If Snapchat and Jeff Koons are the first to create a geo-tagged augmented reality corporate artwork, we will be the first to vandalize it as a way to question its legitimacy,” Errazuriz wrote on Instagram.
Errazuriz told Mashable via email that the protest is in no way specific to Koon’s art, but rather he’s targeting what the partnership represents.
“Do I have a problem with Jeff Koons’s dog? Not really, I couldn’t care less about his dog than about Hello Kitty,” Errazuriz said. “My problem is what it represents as a first corporate commissioned artwork of sorts that is designed to open the way for a market invasion of 3D geo-tagged branding entertainment and advertising.”
On Snapchat’s website the company has issued a call to other artists interested in collaborating in the future, so perhaps this could be the start of a much bigger series of protests.
“I’m just trying to invite a dialogue on this subject,” Errazuriz went on. “Our vandalized balloon dog is an excuse, a conversation starter, a trojan horse that seeks to illustrate a possibility. This was a 24-hour project from inception to 3D development and app construction. It’s as much as we could pack in a day.
According to Errazuriz, Snapchat has yet to respond to the vandalized balloon dog, though he’s submitted it to the company for consideration.
Mashable reached out to Snap and Koons for additional comment.
UPDATE: Oct. 5, 2017, 4:47 p.m. EDT Updated to include quotes from Errazuriz.