LACMA’s new digital public art program will drop AR-based monuments and murals across L.A.

Monuments, In a Snap

LACMA’s new digital public art program will drop AR-based monuments and murals across L.A.

View of the (Broad Contemporary Art Museum) and the Resnick Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (© Museum Associates/Courtesy LACMA)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has announced a new, augmented reality-based public art program launched in partnership with Snap, Inc., the Santa Monica-headquartered parent company of messaging app Snapchat. Called Monumental Perspectives, the initiative will give rise to new monuments and murals that “celebrate diverse histories in an effort to reflect richer and more inclusive perspectives from communities across the region,” according to a LACMA press release.

Each new work, created by different emerging artists in collaboration with technologists from Snap’s Lens Creator community, will virtually come to life in several unique L.A. locales—LACMA’s Wilshire Boulevard campus and Magic Johnson Park in South L.A. included–and can be experienced exclusively on Snapchat.

The first five artists to participate in the digital public art program are I.R. Bach, Mercedes Dorame, Glenn Kaino, Ruben Ochoa, and Ada Pinkston. In addition to collaborating with Snap Lens Creators, each will work directly with historians and community stakeholders to examine “key moments and figures in the region’s past and present that have too often been overlooked.” Further details about the first cohort will be announced early next year ahead of the initiative’s official public launch.

“LACMA has partnered with Snap before, but this is a truly ambitious initiative to pair artists with innovative Lens Creators to rethink how to mark L.A. with diverse histories through digital public artworks,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, in a statement. “Building new physical monuments takes a great deal of time, but the issues around monuments in America are urgent. Utilizing Snap’s advanced augmented reality technology, artists and their virtual artworks mapped to specific places can inspire immediate conversations around real histories, real places, and visions of the future.”

Snap, it should be noted, joined LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab Advisory Board in 2018.

Beyond the first round of site-specific virtual monuments to be realized next year, further financial support to expand the program will be provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project, a five-year, $250 million grant program launched in October that centers around the creation of new monuments and memorials in the public space and the removal and/or re-contextualization of problematic existing ones. According to the museum, support from the Foundation will not only go toward expanding Monumental Perspectives to include additional artists but also toward curation activities and community engagement efforts at each monument location as well as public programming.

“These visionary artists will chart bold new ways of experiencing and understanding the complex history of our country’s monuments and memorials, and encourage broad public engagement and enthusiasm for the future of our commemorative spaces,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“The five participating artists are interested in the important questions surrounding public commemorative art: whose experiences and perspectives are being foregrounded? Whose histories are being erased?” added Rita Gonzalez, Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art at LACMA. “We are looking forward to experiencing their vision and sharing these works with the public.”

AN will share further details on the first five monuments and murals as they go live in 2021. In the meantime, you can read about each of the inaugural artists here.