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Virtual Vandalisation on Snapchat’s AR Sculpture

Earlier this week, Snapchat revealed it was teaming up with artist Jeff Koons to have his artwork featured in the smartphone app in several major cities. The reveal didn’t entirely go the way Snapchat planned, with new leaking early due to a flaw in the website. Now it seems not everyone is pleased with the new feature, and have taken to expressing their displeasure in a unique way.

Another artist named Sebastian Errzuriz has made his distaste for the new Snapchat feature quite clear by creating a recreation of the augmented reality (AR) sculpture of Koons balloon dog covered in graffiti and posting the image to Instagram.

According to BBC News, Errazuriz posted the picture as a protest against what he saw as a stealth corporate takeover of public spaces using AR, saying: “The growth of augmented reality… will soon see corporations increasingly encroaching on public space. It is vital to open up a dialogue and start questioning now how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies.”

The Snapchat feature is location-based, so the sculptures are only visible by using the Snapchat app at certain locations. For example, the balloon dog sculpture can only be seen at New York’s Central Park, or London’s Hyde Park.

Speaking to the BBC, Mark Graham, a professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: “I don’t think that there is anything particularly problematic with Snapchat’s decision to display virtual installations around the world. The issue is more just that, as ever more people experience their cities through a digital lens, everyone should feel they have a right to access, use, and create in those digital spaces.”

VRFocus will continue to report on new developments in augmented reality.