It may well be the first act of vandalism to occur in the realm of augmented reality.
Artist Sebastian Errazuriz has tagged a digital representation of a Jeff Koons balloon dog in Central Park, one of nine Koons sculptures that comprise a global, AR installation launched by Snapchat earlier this week. The social media app has partnered with Koons to introduce a new camera feature that invites users to hunt for geo-tagged, AR sculptures in public sites around the world that pop up on screens when located, as special selfie filters. Materializing a day after this announcement, Errazuriz’s graffiti-sporting, digital dog is intended as a “symbolic stance against an imminent AR corporate invasion,” as the artist said in an email to Hyperallergic.
To be specific, Errazuriz didn’t hack Snapchat and tag its model of the sculpture but created his own, identical version with his studio, CrossLab, and dropped it at the same GPS coordinates as Snapchat’s. He then created his own free app, ARNYC, through which you can access the graffitied Koons if you’re within 300 meters of it in Central Park. The vandalism here is more symbolic, but it still raises necessary questions about control and privatization of digital real estate, and how massive corporations can co-opt this endless canvas of pixelated pseudo-reality.
“It is vital to start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies,” Errazuriz said. “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.”
The graffiti bomb questions the problematic nature of how we are able to interact in our parks and landmarks when they become part of a tech giant’s promotional campaign. Nothing in these realms is accidental or spontaneous; everything that exists is designed for approval. Snapchat’s launch was another Silicon Valley attempt to disrupt (and an urgent one, at that); Errazuriz’s vandalism is true disruption. Notably, his act echoes the early motivations of graffiti writers who were reclaiming public space for individual expression as advertisers colored the streets with their own graphics.
CrossLab has also submitted its AR balloon dog to Snapchat, which has an open call on its new website, art.snapchat.com, for artists to send portfolios for possible inclusion in its AR installation. The company has not yet given him a response. Hyperallergic has also reached out to Snap for comment and will update if we hear back.
Increased oil tanker truck traffic would “seriously degrade” the experience of viewing the canyon’s Indigenous rock art, said one advocate of the site.
This week, AP Style Twitter goes wild, the “enshittification” of TikTok, and did people actually come flooding back to New York City after COVID?
Scores of cultural heritage sites are in ruins amid a fragile truce and an ongoing war of narratives.
Jafar Panahi was arrested last July, after he participated in protests at the notorious Evin prison.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
Designed by artist Christine Egaña Navin, the items will be offered by Project Art Distribution at this weekend’s NADA Flea Market.
The French painter felt he had to rise to the challenge of one question above all things else: What exactly is it to be a modern artist?
Philipsz’s haunting sound and video artworks serve as a poignant witness to the lives and artistry of victims of the Holocaust.
Passamaquoddy citizen Chris Newell is imparting his knowledge of the Wabanaki Confederacy to advise on the Portland Museum of Art’s expansion.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
The artist’s site-specific museum exhibition Three Parallels glows with choreographed colored light.
In an open letter, European institutional leaders defend Manuel Borja-Villel, who has faced right-wing attacks for his progressive programming.