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Snapchat lens turns new £20 note into interactive artwork

© Snapchat/PA WireThe new 20 pound note with a new Snapchat augmented reality (AR) Lens in front of the original JMW Turner masterpiece The Fighting Temeraire at The National Gallery in London
The new 20 pound note with a new Snapchat augmented reality (AR) Lens in front of the original JMW Turner masterpiece The Fighting Temeraire at The National Gallery in London

Snapchat has turned the new £20 note into a piece of live artwork, using augmented reality to animate the paintings of JMW Turner which appear on the new note.

The new polymer £20 banknote enters circulation on Thursday featuring a self-portrait of Turner as well as one of his most celebrated paintings, The Fighting Temeraire.

Snapchat users will be able to bring the image on the note to life using a new Lens launched on the social media platform, which uses augmented reality (AR) to see a full colour, animated version of the painting on the note itself.

The feature works by identifying the new note through a Snapchat user’s smartphone camera and overlaying the interactive images onto the banknote – in a similar fashion to how facial filters can be placed over a user’s face when using other Lenses in the Snapchat app.

The note will also go on display at The National Gallery – the home of The Fighting Temeraire – on Thursday.

The social media platform confirmed the new Lens would also work on a picture of the note, for those who do not immediately encounter one in circulation.

Ed Couchman, UK general manager for Snapchat’s parent company Snap, said: “The launch of the new £20 will result in Turner’s paintings being amongst the most widely distributed artworks in the UK, maybe even the world.

“We want to make sure that Snapchatters are encouraged to take note, look at the cash in their wallet and appreciate these great paintings. Hopefully, this partnership will help introduce a whole new generation to one of Britain’s greatest ever painters.”

The Fighting Temeraire was voted the UK’s favourite painting in a poll run by BBC Radio 4.

Sarah John, the Bank of England’s chief cashier, said: “We’re incredibly excited to launch the new polymer £20 note today and are pleased to be partnering with Snapchat to bring the note to life in an entirely novel way.

“Turner is one of the most influential British artists and we’re now bringing his art to the pockets of people all over the UK. I hope the public will enjoy using, and snapping, their Turner £20s.”