You'll never have a better chance to own a Jeff Koons. Google teamed with the world-renowned artist for a new series for the company's Nexus Live Case line, featuring his Gazing Ball sculptures and exclusive video content. So yeah, not exactly a giant sculpture of a balloon swan on your front lawn, but still.
The cases, which feature images of his artworks, include a custom video wallpaper that's activated after snapping on the case. The video wallpaper is actually Koons's first live-action piece of work, and features New York City ballet dancers performing 28 short movements from Swan Lake with the artist's Gazing Ball. When you tap the wallpaper, the dancers perform on your screen, with a new video every day.
Co.Create spoke to Koons about how the collaboration came about, the idea of putting his art in your pocket, and more.
CO.CREATE: Why partner with Google on a project like this?
KOONS: "For quite a few years, I've been friends with some of the people in management at Google—Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen—and I've really enjoyed the company. And of course, it's had such a large impact on everybody. When Google came around, it was fantastic to use for research, and you can follow any type of interest, and that's what I really believe is the most important thing in life. To experience transcendence is to follow your interests.
"So we talked over the years about how nice it would be to do something together, and then some individuals made contact and asked if I'd like to do a Live Case. And I saw that Skrillex had just done a Live Case, and I thought it was fantastic and exciting to create a case that activates different apps to really have an emotional experience with the phone."
What was the collaboration process like with Google?
"It was wonderful. Of course, Google is a very large company, so they have tremendous facilities. It's nice for a company like this to work with artists, because artists are used to working with materials and have ideas they'd like to capture. So I think that I was pushing them, and they were able to take things to a higher level than we anticipated we could reach. It's always wonderful to work with people who have the type of resources that are able to reach a higher-end product. The printing on the case, the chip used for the Live Case, the wallpaper—I think we were able to make some breakthroughs."
As opposed to people coming to see a work of art, this puts your work in people's pockets—did that influence how you approached the project?
"Absolutely. There's an emotional response to these objects and the images. I'm very proud of the wallpaper, which is based on Swan Lake. The reason for this is that Swan Lake, and ballet in general, is very beautiful. It's biological, you're in contact with your body and again with the senses, but at the same time it's the epitome of the cultural. In reference to not only internal life, but how we interact with the outside world. This dialogue between internal life and external life, and I think how those two interact with each other.
"That, emotionally, can be picked up and perceived. But it's also working like a cultural phone, where you can set it up with one button that will tell you where all the museums are close to you, no matter where you are in the world.
"Also, periodically, I'll be sending digital images or artworks I create for people who have the Live Case. And just things that are of interest—like if today I would see an image that's really exciting, or something I wanted to film, I could capture it and send it out to people, just have a discourse of ideas."
Was that immediate contact with an audience something that also attracted you to this project?
"I think as an artist you want to experience emotions, feelings, sensations—you want to experience ideas and transcendence, but automatically when you have these experiences in life, you want to share them with others. That's why you want to communicate. You want to make these things, share these things with other people. And this is a vehicle that gives me the opportunity to have a discussion that hopefully I can affect the life of somebody I wouldn't be in contact with otherwise."