Snapchat’s Jeff Koons artwork vandalised as artists vie to control virtual public space

Snapchat’s ‘balloon dog’ AR artwork vandalized with artists at loggerheads

Snapchat's much-publicised ‘Balloon Dog’ sculpture by acclaimed artist Jeff Koons has survived for less than a day unscathed in New York’s Central Park, despite solely occupying virtual space, after being vandalised by an irate artist.

Koons' piece was intended to flex Snapchat’s growing augmented reality muscle but has instead become a sounding board for artists questioning the takeover of virtual public space by private companies.

Using that rationale. local artist Sebastian Errazuriz and his studio Cross Lab defaced the golden sculpture with crude graffiti tags as a shot across the bows for attempting to ‘subconsciously manipulate and control us’ via ‘corporate content’.

Explaining his actions on Instagram, Errazuriz wrote: “It is vital to start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies. Right now such sculptures exist in a realm dominated by social media corporations, offering us ‘free’ services that we voluntarily join. Nevertheless, with time, the boundaries between reality and virtual reality fade.

“The virtual world, where the majority of our social interactions take place, becomes our reality. Once we begin experiencing the world predominantly through AR, our public space will be dominated by corporate content designed to subconsciously manipulate and control us. If Snapchat X Jeff Koons are the first to create a geo-tagged augmented reality corporate artwork, we will be the first to vandalize it as a way to question its legitimacy.”

To pull off his stunt, Errazuriz designed a grungy replica of the bling object to occupy the precise same GPS coordinates as Snapchat’s idol – although it is of course invisible to Snapchat users who can only see the polished original.

John Glenday

John Glenday is responsible for compiling The Drum's daily morning bulletin and ensuring that overnight breaking news is covered while you're still brushing your teeth. Can also make a mean cup of tea.

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