In France, like many western countries, public space lacks monuments honouring women. What about empowering Women’s Legacy through Augmented Reality? As a storytelling company, Snap knows that stories have the power to change hearts, minds, and behaviors. Stories create empathy, which can inspire behavior change across Snap and the broader industry. And although our industry is data-driven, we understand numbers are not a substitute for lived experience. The differing lived experience of underrepresented groups can reduce feelings of belonging, which in turn reduces opportunity to realize potential. Snap’s goal in inspiring empathy is to create a shared culture of belonging for all.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023, Snap’s AR Studio has been honouring 8 emblematic women in 8 major French cities (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Metz and Nantes) through a unique augmented reality experience: “March 8, 8 women”. “March 8, 8 women” has been a unique opportunity to demonstrate Augmented Reality’s impact in supporting Great National Cause (French president Emmanuel Macron has declared Equity a priority for 2023), while showcasing Snap’s creative and technologic leadership in AR.
While as many women as men have marked the course of history, the vast majority of sculptures in the urban space in France (squares, gardens and streets) honour male characters. Snap’s AR Studio has thus imagined augmented reality statues of women who have left their mark on history in the fields of politics, arts and letters or resistance. These augmented reality statues are installed next to the physical statues of their male counterparts – hence creating a silent dialogue between two historical figures, a male & a female, a physical & a virtual, both having lived in the same era, walked similar fields, achieved close successes.
Each of these 8 virtual statues honours the achievements of the following 8 great women in history and helps to commemorate their contributions to French society:
Simone Veil: Champion of women’s rights, emblem of the 1975 law that legalized abortion, and the first female president of the European Parliament. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of General Charles de Gaulle on the Champs-Elysées roundabout in Paris.
Simone de Beauvoir: An acclaimed writer and philosopher of the existentialist movement. As an anti-conformist, she advocated for the emancipation of women in her writings, such as her 1949 book The Second Sex, and became one of the pioneers of French feminism in the 20th century. Her augmented reality statue will be placed next to the physical one of 20th century poet and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, at Place Bellecour in Lyon.
Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun: Admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1783 and the official painter to Marie Antoinette, she achieved critical and popular success in the artistic world despite the many obstacles facing female artists of her time. Her augmented reality statue will be placed next to the physical one of 18th century artist Pierre Puget, in the Parc Borély in Marseille.
Françoise de Graffigny: One of the most emblematic female figures of 18th century French literature, best known for her philosophical essay Letters from a Peruvian Woman published in 1747. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of renown philosopher Montesquieu, at Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux.
Manon Tardon: Figure of the French Resistance and Free France, she was present on May 8, 1945, in Berlin when the surrender of Nazi Germany was signed. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of World War 2 hero Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, at Square Amiral Halgan in Nantes.
Josephine Baker: An American-born singer, actress, feminist, showgirl, and French resistance fighter, Josephine Baker was a spy for the Free French Forces, an emblem of the Paris of the Roaring Twenties, and an influential figure in the fight against racial segregation. Her augmented reality statue will be placed next to the physical one of resistant fighter Jean Moulin, at Gare Centrale in Metz.
Olympe de Gouges: Principal author of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Citizen published in 1791, she is considered one of the French pioneers of feminism. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of French Revolution leader Jean-Baptiste Kléber, at Place Kléber in Strasbourg.
Hubertine Auclert: Journalist, feminist activist, and founder of the society Le droit des femmes in 1876, she advocated for women’s economic independence, the right to education, and equality in marriage and divorce. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of early 20th-century activist Léon Trulin, at Place du Théâtre (not far from the Lille Opera).
“Through this innovative experience installed in 8 cities in France, we want to pay tribute to 8 women who have changed French history and society through their actions, their writings, or their positions. Thanks to Snap’s augmented reality technologies, we were able to celebrate those 8 women by building their statues in the public space by placing them alongside statues of men. By establishing a silent dialogue between these historical figures, our wish is to raise public awareness of the fight for women’s rights.” — Donatien Bozon, AR Studio Director.
To design this outstanding augmented reality experience, AR Studio Paris teamed up with French Women’s Rights advocate and influencer Aude Gogny-Goubert, drew inspiration from academic essays (Women & cities, Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2004), and requested the patronage of SnapWomen EMEA, a Snap’s Employee Representative Group supporting Equity. An all-female panel vetted the 8 female historical figures (and their male counterpart), from more than twenty curated candidates.
It took AR Studio Paris and its partners a total of 3 months, from ideation to launch, to create true virtual monument as close to physical ones as possible. 3D artists and producers scrutinized the physical statues in order to develop a virtual counterpart replicating sculpting techniques and materials. AR engineers exploited Snap Inc. proprietary technologies (Location AR, Environment mapping, Surface Tracking…) to bring this augmented reality experience to life.
The AR experience “March 8, 8 Women” has been available since March 8, 2023, sharing, with Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Metz and Nantes citizen and visitors, 8 permanent virtual monument exclusively available on Snapchat… thus building momentum to advocate Equity across France.
Snap believes that augmented reality—digital content overlaid over the real world—represents the next major shift in computing. Like ephemeral messaging and vertical video, Snap also pioneered augmented reality. Today Snap is leading in AR, from a technology, scale, and creator perspective. Snap’s vision for AR is rooted in innovation and stems from our desire to solve problems for our community in a creative way through human-centric design, and the desire to create a more positive reality rather than escape the problems our society faces. As it turns out, Snapchatters love the world around them and the friends and family they share it with, so why not use technology to enhance it for the better?