Snapchat just launched AR artwork in nine locations

Snapchat’s cat face filter may be more like kids face painting than art, but now the social media platform is working to explore art through augmented reality. On Tuesday, October 3, Snap Inc. launched several virtual Snapchat art installations by artist Jeff Koons, along with an application for other artists to join the platform.

The art installations — leaked when eager viewers set their computer clock ahead on the countdown website — are now live in nine locations around the world. The Snapchat app directs the user where to go to find the new virtual pieces, then allows visitors to walk around the virtual statue.

“We all come about creativity in different ways but the main thing that’s taking place is we’re experiencing play,” Koons said in a statement. “Snapchat is a creative platform and it lets us be able to communicate with each other and transmit ideas.”

The artwork, now listed at art.snapchat.com, includes nine virtual sculptures mixing with the real world in Paris, New York City, London, Toronto, Sydney, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Washington D.C., and Venice, Italy. The statues include larger-than-life balloon animals — including a dog that’s three stories high in New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park.

Snapchat is not the first to create virtual artwork discovered in the real world through a smartphone camera. The Bellevue Art Museum in Washington has featured digital graffiti, viewers with the Microsoft Hololens get a different look at the Armory Show, while the Whole Story Project aims to fix the gender skew favoring male sculptures with virtual renditions of historic female figures. Unlike virtual reality applications that allow users to explore art from the comfort of their home, augmented reality places virtual artwork in a real, physical place.

Snapchat’s art installations were likely a design challenge since a majority of the fixtures are actually designed to look like they are made from real, reflective materials. Koons says that the reflective quality of the artwork is designed to reflect the viewer, making the piece about each viewer.

Snapchat didn’t release an official comment but simply launched the website after a countdown. An icon in the corner invites artists to apply, suggesting that Koons’ work is just the start of a more widespread project.

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