Jeff Koons' augmented reality Snapchat artwork gets 'vandalized'

Lucas Matney

Earlier this week, Snapchat launched a new augmented reality art exhibiting feature as part of a collaboration with the artist Jeff Koons. ART, as it's called, will plaster the digital artwork and sculptures of artists into geo-tagged physical locations across the world that viewers can see as a Lens inside the Snapchat app.

There has already been a backlash by some in the artistic community who are skeptical of corporations "putting up" digital art that they could potentially monetize wherever they would like. As a way to spark the conversation, earlier this week a group of New York-based artists mocked-up a "vandalized" version of Jeff Koon's AR Balloon Dog. To be fair, this is a patently 2017 issue to have, but also one that we will definitely have conversation build around it as we question the ownership of physical digital locations.

The group didn't hack Snap's servers to vandalize the sculpture, the work is more simply a 3D digital recreation of the work placed on top of a photo of the same geo-tagged location as Koons' work.

Graffiti artist Sebastien Errazuriz sought to raise some interesting questions with the work done with Cross Lab Studio, positing whether augmented reality experiences should be governed by similar rules to those renting out physical spaces.

Instagram Photo

On an image of the vandalized artwork, he added more questions:

Should corporations be allowed to place what ever content they choose over our digital public space? Central Park belongs to the city of NY. Why should corporations get to geo-tag its gps coordinates for free? We know they will make money renting gps spots to brands and bombard us with advertisement. They should pay rent, we should choose to approve what can be geo-tagged to our digital public and private space.

These debates might be a few years ahead of their time, but as augmented reality grows less gimmicky and more monetizable, advertising in public space could grow to be a major industry. It's interesting to see artists looking to the government to regulate public companies creating art platforms, but it also shows the hesitation many are feeling to the manner in which tech companies are looking to mesh the digital world onto public physical locations with AR tech.