The Los Angeles County Museum of Art made cyber-news recently when Hyperallergic announced that they were the first museum to join Snapchat. A handful of other museums chimed in that they were also using the mobile image-sharing app popular with millennials, however with 40,000 Snapchat views, LACMA is clearly “killing it,” as LAist noted.
Since images or videos sent to other users disappear immediately after viewing, Snapchat has become associated, perhaps unfairly, with content that demands discretion (dick pics in common parlance). Users can, however, post “stories” that remain viewable for 24 hours, which is how most art institutions are using the app.
“The majority of people don’t use it as a sex app,” says Maritza Yoes, LACMA’s social media manager. “They’re using it as a platform for play, from the mundane to the cool. It’s a little less narcissistic than Instagram, it’s ephemeral, it’s quick.” In addition to sharing artwork from LACMA’s collection that she pairs with captions from pop culture, Yoes uses Snapchat to share content not available on other platforms, such as images of her visits to artists’ studios. There is also a new LACMA geofilter with which users can tag their museum snaps to properly brand their experience.
If you’re looking for a more analog way to communicate via smartphone, Miranda July has just released Somebody, a messaging app she created in collaboration with fashion brand Miu Miu. The basic gist is that you send a message to a friend, which, instead of showing up on their phone, is delivered in person by another app user in their general vicinity. You can specify inflections or actions such as “longingly,” “fist bump” or “ask her what she’s worried about and reassure her that everything will be OK.” A short film (with Miu Miu wardrobe) produced in conjunction with the app is equal parts sincere and cringe-worthy, so typical July fare.
The app works best with a critical mass of users in one place, so official hot spots have been designated, including LACMA, the New Museum and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. To promote the hot spot, Yoes recently spent a day walking around the LACMA grounds sporting seriously old-school messaging technology – a sandwich board.
It’s unclear if the hot spots will actually enhance the social aspects of museum-going, or if users will simply race past great works of art in attempts to deliver quirky messages to strangers. Concerns have also been raised regarding privacy issues, since the deliverer of the message is given GPS tracking information about the recipient to help locate them. This seems fine in a public space during the day, not so much if the message is delivered when one is home alone at night. Even less so if the message involves pooping back and forth forever.