Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says he hopes the use of augmented reality technology to spread art will encourage young people to create; fend off Instagram
Snapchat just got more real.
The disappearing image app has tied up with American artist Jeff Koons—he of balloon animals in stainless steel sheen fame —to digitally place his sculptures all around the world. The collaboration is powered by augmented reality technology that allows computer-generated images to appear cast against a real world backdrop. It was announced by Evan Spiegel, chief exec of Snapchat parent Snap yesterday, though a tech glitch meant enterprising users were able to catch a glimpse of the works beforehand.
Here’s how the tie-up works: Snap has planted Koons sculptures ranging from a replica of Popeye the Sailor to a dog in at least seven parks across the world. Assuming you have your phone’s geolocation function turned on, open the Snapchat app when you’re nearby and you’ll be guided to the specific digital statue. Once up close, you can maneuver your way around Koons’ masterpieces as if they were really physically there.
Snap has used AR to install Koons’ oeuvre at Central Park in New York, Millennium Park in Chicago, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the Venice Boardwalk just outside Los Angeles. Landmarks outside the United States with Snap statues are Hyde Park in London, Roundhouse Park in Toronto, the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and the Champ de Mars in Paris, which surrounds the Eiffel Tower. While Koons is the only artist to have publicly been confirmed as a Snap partner, the Silicon Valley unicorn is soliciting works from other digital Picassos.
— David Bénard 🏁 (@david_benard) October 4, 2017
Why is Snap undertaking what’s no doubt a costly tie-up? After all, a Koons work was auctioned off for a record $58.4 million in 2013. Well the company considers itself foremost a camera maker rather than an app maker and sees the partnership as a way to introduce millennials to using their cameras in ways that don’t involve taking a selfie.
Here’s how to catch the Jeff Koons sculptures Snapchat is placing all over the world https://t.co/UlRCEhc3Wn
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 4, 2017
“Cameras inspire curiosity . . . they encourage you to look around,” said Spiegel at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit yesterday. “That’s different than staring at a sheet of paper. If you look at the Snapchat camera, layering this expression on top of your experience encourages anyone anywhere to be creative.”
Snap is increasingly dabbling with AR technology in hopes that it’ll revitalize a company that has struggled since Facebook’s Instagram released a Stories function that replicates its trademark vanishing image feature. As of this summer, Instagram Stories had 250 million daily users versus the 166 million Snap reported for the first quarter of 2017. The company currently has a market capitalization of about $17.5 billion, down from $28.3 billion shortly after it went public earlier this year.
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