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Snap Has Busy Week: Sotheby’s Partnership and ASL Awareness Project

Go to new places and learn new skills with four new Snap lenses.


As probably the single largest driver of consumer AR, Snap moves pretty fast. As a result, we at ARPost can have our work cut out for us in terms of keeping up.

After one such week, this article is going to talk about two drastically different but perhaps equally interesting developments: a partnership with Sotheby’s and launching new lenses for “The Weak of the Deaf.”

Visit Christo’s Arc de Triomphe

If you hadn’t heard about Sotheby’s before this year, you’ve probably heard of them by now. The “fine arts and luxury real estate” company used to be in the news every now and then if they sold a multi-million-dollar painting that had been recovered after a daring heist or something like that. However, since they got into digital media and NFTs they’ve become a little more relevant.

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Why is that? Because not everyone can access a multi-million-dollar painting recovered after a daring heist but anyone can access digital media. The “democratization” of art has a long and storied history. Two figures that come up in that history are Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Part of their approach to democratizing art included creating public art on an unbelievably large scale.

A Sotheby’s Paris exhibition “The Final Christo: Original Works for the Arc de Triomphe”, open now through October 3, includes 25 never-before-seen original artworks and coincides with installation of Christo’s most recent large-scale work. Because the exhibition and the art installation are only in Paris, Sotheby’s partnered with Snapchat to attract a global audience.

Sotheby’s and Snap - The Final Christo project

Snap used sketches and other visuals, along with their in-house animation technology and a gyroscope tool to create models of the Arc de Triomphe in various stages and iterations of Christo’s work. The models appear in a portal lens accessible within the Snapchat app no matter where in the world a user is located.

Users have access to a slider bar that they can use to navigate which artwork they want to see. The lens can be found through the lens carousel.

Learn Sign Language to Unlock Filters

In a different kind of partnership, Snap teamed up with SignAll, an app for detecting and translating American Sign Language (ASL) using AI. The partnership resulted in a Bitmoji, stickers, and three AR-enabled lenses designed by deaf and hard-of-hearing team members at Snap Inc.

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“A big motivation for me is my own oldest son, who absolutely loves to talk, but has had a hard time learning ASL,” Snap Inc software engineer Jennica Pounds said in a release. “I’m passionate about this technology because I truly believe it’s going to break so many applications wide open. It’s tech like this that will help families like mine communicate and grow together.”

ASL Awareness Project - Snap stickers, lenses and Bitmoji

In one of the three lenses, users unlock fun filters by successfully spelling out words in ASL. In another, users unlock a filter by spelling their Snapchat username in ASL. In a third, letters fall from the sky and users need to successfully make the signs for the letters in order to advance.

Snap Makes it Happen

Maybe these stories aren’t that different after all. Both of them are cases of Snap making what was once relatively specialist content more available. In the first case, this specialist content is location-based art. In the other, it’s something that wasn’t limited by location or means but that never made its way in front of most of us. It’s in front of us now, alright.


Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance journalist with special interest in emerging technologies. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.