Snapchat Launches AR Art Galleries in Major Cities Around the World

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 - 8:52PM
Technology
Virtual Reality
Weird Science
Tuesday, 03 October 2017 - 8:52PM
Snapchat Launches AR Art Galleries in Major Cities Around the World
YouTube/Snapchat
Imagine if you could fill a city with digital art sculptures that are completely invisible to the naked eye, but that appear in glorious 3D whenever they're run through the right Snapchat filter. Depending on your age and proclivity with social media, this may either sound like a burst of genius innovation, or an indicator that humanity is approaching some kind of self-inflicted Armageddon.

Either way, this is very, very real. Snapchat users who visit specific key locations in major cities around the world, such as Central Park, the Sydney Opera House, and Copacabana Beach will now be able to get a nice, augmented reality look at sculptures from famous artist Jeff Koons.

Known primarily for making giant sculptures that resemble balloon animals, Koons is a big deal in the art world in spite of how inherently silly and meaningless his oeuvre may seem to the uninitiated or deeply suspicious. While getting these enormous sculptures on display in various different global locations might be a challenge, it's simple to create them digitally for audiences to enjoy as part of Snapchat's ever-evolving attempts to escape its origins as a tool for sending lewd pictures to strangers.

Essentially, this is designed to be an equivalent to Pokémon GO, but with an air of cultural sophistication. Instead of wandering around local neighborhoods to find pretend rats and pigeons, Snapchat's new endeavor encourages people to visit key landmarks of global importance, in order to see works of art.



That said, it does feel like the specific implementation of this plan somewhat undermines Snapchat's intentions. Going to see a big pretend balloon animal doesn't feel any more culturally enlightened than playing Pokémon, and traveling to big cities to do so seems like a waste of time when the original massively popular AR game encouraged players to visit local landmarks within their own communities, discovering things they never knew were present right outside their door.

Considering just how popular Pokémon GO has proven, we're going to see more of these kinds of augmented reality experiences in the near future. There's definitely a place for them, and Snapchat will no doubt get some mileage out of introducing a sizable chunk of their user base to Jeff Koons' artwork, but let's not pretend that one of these games is any more culturally relevant than another at this stage.

The one significant thing about Snapchat's system is that is it going to expand over time, and artists are welcome to submit portfolio pieces for consideration in a future rollout of more digital sculptures in significant locations.

That said, considering that two of the first things that will appear will be advertising for Budweiser and Warner Bros, this still doesn't exactly feel like the high art spectacle than Snapchat is trying to sell us on.
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