Snapchat Shows Augmented Reality Artworks at Art Basel Miami – The tech company expands its Jeff Koons collaboration to artists Deborah Kass, Daniel Arsham, Lionel Smit, and more.
Snapchat’s humble beginnings positioned the app as a way to send cheeky photos without a paper trail, but now the company whose IPO was valued between $25 and $35 billion is democratizing the art world in a way only it could.
In celebration of this year’s Miami Art week, Snapchat collaborated with artists Deborah Kass, D*Face, Hebru Brantley, Lionel Smit, Nathan Sawaya, and Daniel Arsham to translate their works into augmented reality. Using Lenses, the virtual overlays within the app that gave the world memes like the dancing hot dog, fairgoers at Art Basel and Design Miami—as well as anyone in the world—are invited to explore the six works of art in their surroundings as if they were public art installations. The works are anchored in place and rendered in 3-D, which invites viewers to walk around the sculptures and examine them from all angles.
“The possibilities of virtual art are endless. It is such a unique experience as an artist, to see people interact with your work in this way, on such an expansive platform as Snapchat,” says artist Hebru Brantley. “It allows for greater access to work that is usually only seen two-dimensionally by most people.” Public art installations place art in high-traffic areas, exposing the work to viewers who might not otherwise interact with it. Photographs help, too, for those in faraway cities without a strong art scene, but the interactive experience that builds a connection with the work is lost almost entirely in two dimensions.
In 2005 American artist Deborah Kass installed her OY/YO sculpture at the base of the Manhattan Bridge in New York. The sculpture’s three-dimensional, physical presence is essential to viewing and experiencing the work: When facing Brooklyn from Manhattan, one sees the word “YO,” which means “I am” in Spanish and is an urban and Brooklyn slang word; but while standing in Brooklyn and facing Manhattan, the sculpture reads “OY,” a common Yiddish word meant to express woe, dismay, or annoyance. A photograph could never replicate the act of crossing the bridge and experiencing the meaning change with the point of view, but placing a 3-D rendering of the work in any surrounding instantly translates the authentic interaction intended by the artist. “Partnering with Snapchat is a fantastic way to reach an entirely new audience, and augmented reality is a new way to experience art,” remarks Kass. “This lens lets my work exist virtually in different real-life environments, which is fantastically fun.”
Snapchat cracking open the doors to what was historically a small, elite circle of art patrons means that work can be viewed in any context, in any location, outside of the traditional white-cube gallery space. This is a huge advancement for the art world, and for artists who want to share their work with a broader audience beyond the critics, curators, gallerists, fairgoers, and art enthusiasts. “Social media has become its own type of art gallery, and these platforms have the power to be inclusionary, instead of exclusionary, furthering the democratization of art,” said artist Nathan Sawaya.
This round of artist collaborations varies slightly from Snapchat’s first experiment with placing virtual art in public settings. Earlier this year, the app partnered with Jeff Koons to place renditions of his sculptures in 30 parks around the world. The sculptures were anchored to a specific place, but viewers could still interact with them on the app if they came across the geolocation. A spokeswoman for Snap Inc. confirmed that there are more announcements to come surrounding the use of AR and artist partnerships, which is smart for an app that positions itself as a platform for discovering the world: void of likes, comments, and other metrics that encourage popularity. As Snapchat hustles to compete with Instagram, virtual art could be the key to differentiating itself from the photo-sharing behemoth.
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Source: Architectural Digest