Art Collective Hijacks MoMA Gallery for Abstract Augmented Reality


On March 2, 2018, a mainstay of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was hijacked by a group of eight rogue artists. In a stunt that was equal parts ballsy and brilliant, the Internet-based art collective known as MoMAR used augmented reality technology and its own custom mobile app to get radical works superimposed over seven preexisting paintings in the Jackson Pollock room of the museum without MoMA’s knowledge or permission.  

While the group coordinated for months online, most had not met each other in person until earlier that week when they assembled at a NYU hackathon. Then, on Friday, they made their way up to the fifth floor of MoMA just before closing time, as the museum was handing out free tickets. While the collective was able to put their app onto the Google Play Store, the iPhone App Store did not accept their app in time for the gallery event. However, MoMAR had several backup phones with the app pre-installed, and they were also installing the app directly onto phones from a laptop. Slowly but surely, onlookers began experiencing the augmented reality installation dubbed “Hello, we’re from the internet,” and before long, even gallery visitors without the app were curiously peering over shoulders and trying to steal a glance.  

MoMAR intentionally made their app open source to encourage participation, and they plan to release an instructional PDF that will allow anyone to make modifications regardless of coding experience. The whole experiment, from beginning to end, seems to be making a statement against the traditionally closed-off world of art collectors and galleries, and therefore, against elitism, exclusivity and artistic complacency. More and more museum goers experience the paintings through their phone anyway as they try to line up photos proving that they were there as more of a social media trophy than a landmark experience for one’s own memory.

“Hello, we’re from the internet” brings to mind Marcel Duchamp’s infamous “Fountain,” a porcelain urinal installation that mocks the upper crust art community and calls attention to the similarly stuffy and off-the-mark attitudes toward art consumption that resurface with sociocultural cycles and wealth redistribution (or lack thereof). Indeed, MoMAR’s approach borders on Dadaism or even a kind of techno-punk mentality. Check out the video below for a demo of the collective’s digital additions:

The group intends to run “Hello, we’re from the internet” for three months before moving on to galleries dedicated to other artists. Pollock, an iconoclast himself, is a fitting painter to help usher in this process of playful demonstration for two reasons. One, the works already serve as highly subjective backgrounds thanks to the abstract impressionist’s famously drunken style of flinging and spilling mismatched paints while standing over the canvases. Secondly, the seven paintings that comprise MoMA’s Jackson Pollock room are permanent installations, and the MoMAR collective correctly bet on their target space rarely being resituated. According to member Danjan Pita, who goes by Damjanski, the collective is hardly worried about museum retaliation. After all, art doesn’t get much more modern than this.

Participating Artists:
Sarah Rothberg
Gabriel Barcia-Colombo
Tara Sinn
Louise Foo
David Lobser
Scott Garner
Harald Haraldsson

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About Author

Jason is a screenwriter, filmmaker, multimedia journalist and editor of After film school, he attended USF to graduate with a journalism degree. Since then, Kushner has shot video and written for a myriad of publications and multimedia projects including Creative Loafing Tampa, and His 2009 documentary American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee explored the phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees and the various environmental/economic repercussions. The film became an Official Selection at 12 international film festivals, won Best Documentary at the 2009 Central Florida Film Festival and a John Muir Gold Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival. In 2015, he became editor of at Exponation in Atlanta where he puts his combination of media skills to good use.

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