On Tuesday 3 October, Snapchat launched a collaboration with Jeff Koons which saw digital 3D versions of the artist’s best-known sculptures appear in international tourist hotspots via augmented reality. A day later, New York-based artist Sebastian Errazuriz and his art/technology studio Cross Lab, “vandalised” the Balloon Dog in Central Park in “a symbolic stance against imminent AR corporate invasion”.
The team made an identical 3D AR Balloon Dog covered in graffiti and geo-tagged it to the exact coordinates, “as if the result of an overnight protest” says Sebastian. “It is vital to start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies,” he continues. “Right now such sculptures exist in a realm dominated by social media corporations, offering us ‘free’ services that we voluntarily join. Nevertheless, with time, the boundaries between reality and virtual reality fade. The virtual world, where the majority of our social interactions take place, becomes our reality. 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.”
Apparently Snapchat didn’t respond to Sebastian’s team when they submitted the vandalised Balloon Dog, unsurprisingly, but instead Cross Lab created an independent, free app called ARNYC allowing people to see the alternative artworks.