Selfie Art Playgrounds Pop-up in Austin

Austin is about to get two Instagram-ready attractions designed for the selfie-crazed and hashtag-obsessed.

Earlier this summer, FOMO Factory announced that it would set up “Austin’s first immersive selfie space” at Red River and E. Seventh streets in the heart of the live music district beginning Sept. 14 and run for a month.

Now, the Art of Ice Cream Experience just announced that it will plop down in East Austin near Saltillo Plaza. It will open Sept. 19 and run for three months.

Unsurprisingly, both attractions will overlap with the two-weekend Austin City Limits Music Festival (Oc,t 5-7 and Oct 12-14).

The ticketed pop-up exhibits charge $23 to $25 for about an hour’s access to the touch-everything, visually-overloaded themed rooms. As FOMO (an acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out”) put it, the rooms are designed “to inspire you to take top notch selfies.”

In FOMO’s music-themed room, for example, visitors are issued retro portable cassette players and sit in swings made of ersatz oversized audio tape. Over at the Art of Ice Cream rooms are themed around, well, different kinds of frozen treats.

Temporary Instagram-optimized arty funhouses — Museum of Ice Cream, The Egg House,  Dream Machine,  29Rooms — have been a solid trend in major cities like New York and Los Angeles and many now send iterations to other markets, like Austin. Bloomberg’s The Quint reports that the Museum of Ice Cream — which first popped up in 2016 across the street from New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art — this year attracted over one million visitors across its various locations and brokered a nationwide merchandising deal with Target to sell Museum of Ice Cream-­branded clothes.

Invariably whenever the selfie attractions pop-up so does discussion — and hang-wringing — about whether they are art or entertainment. After all, these days art museums, galleries and public art presenters attract visitors by engineering immersive art installations — and encouraging social media. (On Instagram #art was the fifth most popular hashtag  last year.)

When Yayoi Kusama’s internet-breaking “Infinity Mirrors” went on exhibit earlier this year at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the museum provided cellphone chargers in the exhibit hall as well as a “selfie podium” where people could upload their images.

For the creators of the very ironically — or perhaps very un-ironically —  named FOMO, retail is the goal however. FOMO Factory describes itself as a “multi-sensory wonderland where you are invited… to marvel at larger-than-life retail displays, and shop in a whole new way.”