The brave and the bold: branded art installations
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The brave and the bold: branded art installations

The brave and the bold: branded art installations

Amin Amin

Branded art installations are increasingly present in our cities. A departure from paintings, they do not appease the form of a canvas, instead capturing the reality of how their presence shapes various spaces: galleries, sidewalks, parks, railway stations. Installation artists create these pieces in an effort to transform the space they occupy into an interactive setting. 

As they become more accessible, branded art installations have emerged as a marketing strategy for successful companies (see also how brands use experiential marketing successfully). This has allowed them to build a new route away from the anxiety that capitalism sometimes evokes through its relationship with the arts. In this unique capacity, branded art installations create a new sphere for advertising and bring about fresh questions that linger in the brand’s legacy and in the minds of the artist and consumer during the creation process.
An entrancement takes place as the consumer circles these installations, be they site-specific, immersive or large-scale pieces ​​– branded art installations become an arena for reflection and meditation in accordance with the design. Branded art installations provoke thoughts and questions while also evoking a mood or feeling that fits the chosen setting, epitomizing modern takes on what installation art means for the audience. This is the first step in the meeting between consumer and brand; as they direct their senses through a branded art installation, the consumer decides whether it provokes their awareness or completes a thought on an issue.

Thought-provoking installation by Wieden and Kennedy highlighting the effects of waste – which increased during the covid pandemic – in our oceans. Source: Campaign Uk.


Constructing an experience 

Branded art installations move through a range of artistic accents as they explore new, innovative forms for their practice. The artist furthers the ideals of modern and contemporary art forms, paying them their respects through the bold commencement of a new movement. Often they attempt to construct a particular relationship, leaving room for collaboration between brand, artist, and consumer. Branded art installations are to be found in many forms, made from various materials designed to exist within a designated space. 

The materials used are usually specific objects that can be located in almost every neighborhood, picked up in the local hardware store or ordered online. Gathered together, these resources typically hold the intellectual weight of the art piece, depending on the direction in which brand and artist choose to lead their targeted consumer base. Affinity in Autonomy by Sony was featured at Milan Design Week 2019 as an installation designed to captivate the audience into imagining a future world where robots and humans coexist among us. The sensory experience functions in its setting, realizing the objective of an architectural, social and conceptual experience.

Sony’s Afiinity in Autonomy branded art installation at Milan Design Week 2019.

Artists seek to connect with their audience, emphasizing the communal experience to be found in galleries, museums and public streets. The setting is itself the creative expression; by imposing their vision on the space or simply adding a layer, the artist champions the genre for its potential to transform the art world by surprising audiences and engaging viewers in new ways. Either installed temporarily or long term, these new wonders center on the viewer’s reaction, particularly how it allows them to first find and then begin dialogue with a new community. Moreover it helps enhance the consumer decision-making process, a necessary inquiry into what a brand stands for.

Overlayed reality 

Emerging during a period when people find fulfillment through independent and subjective experiences, branded art installation can allow design to become a tool that builds recognition and increases authenticity for brands. To connect critically with their consumer, brands have evolved through their use of branded art installations to fulfill their creative potential. Dressing different spaces in tailor-made garments, the experiences elicited are highly sought after. Take Nike’s 20-meter installation of Carlos Tevez made out of 5,500 Brazilian skill balls: it enabled people to bask in the glory of a footballing idol while attending the 2010 world cup in South Africa. Its purpose was exemplified by the end of the tournament as it found permanence in its disassembly, with the balls being given away to young kids as gifts to be cherished forever.

Branded art installations tend to find their authenticity within the message they communicate. Naturally, due to size, shape and form, attempting to relocate them can be a challenge. The materials used should be chosen with this in mind, and many branded installation artists utilize more commonplace resources, everyday items and found objects. Found among the local community, these down-to-earth materials enable the accessible and democratic nature of these artworks, moreover broadening the scope of what an artist is. Located in New York’s Grand Central Station, The Da Vinci of Debt is a large-scale paper installation that combines 2,600 college diplomas. These are suspended in the air over a desk, formed in a shape that resembles the diplomas being thrown in frustration. It serves as a commentary on the student debt crisis, and is ironically valued at $147 million – aided by the fact that each diploma is worth $180,000.

Read more about the different types of installation art.

Da Vinci of Debt, the world's most expensive installation, is valued at $147 million.

For a new future

Brands are finding themselves commissioning art installations in the spirit of patronage, an alternative to traditional art that gives a financial pillar to the artist themselves. Therefore branded art installations set out to be the perfect medium that allows for art to become a less isolated endeavor. The movement widens the lens that is perceived to yield a successful marketing campaign, diminishing the impact of outdated advertising by eliminating its recycled vacuum of work through a new form. The positions that branded art installations take are indicated by their unpredictability, offering new modes of knowledge to the consumer and embracing art from a different perspective. It is only through these efforts that brands have become endowed with a less detached marketing structure.

See other breathtaking digital interactive installations with futuristic art.

As these two worlds intersect in an important way, outlets for revenue streams have expanded beyond gift shops with brands becoming pivotal in sponsoring art projects. Modern installation artists are embracing this, even taking the opportunity to reflect on the brand itself. The effect this has on the consumer is key as the brand can now become more familiar with their audience. In this newly founded union, artists can look forward to revealing the underlying mechanisms that produce culture, allowing room for further revision and reconstruction of this form.


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