The ArtSelfie: What is Google’s Arts and Culture app?

I once worked in an office so desperately mundane that all of my colleagues were habitually reduced to googling lookalikes and referring to a chosen colleague by a precariously designated doppelgänger throughout the week. “Oye, Thor here’s your wage slip”. Anyways, my point is everybody loves a good lookalike and I for one am no exception, so when I heard about #Artselfie I was right on it.

#Artselfie made Google’s Arts and Culture app go viral and at present, it has been downloaded over 5 million times. The reason for this? Some kind of human necessity, or fault, to see ourselves within a broader historical context? That could be it. The app uses facial recognition technology to compare your own face with that of over 1000 classic portraits and I’ll be honest, it is a good old laugh.

Google hopes it will attract more people to galleries and cultural sites and get us all more psyched about art in general. Once inside the app, you can explore galleries all over the world, discover the history behind classic paintings and even create your own gallery based on marked favorites. 

It’s pretty damn cool. Say your planning a trip to MoMA or Rijksmuseum and you want to get in some pre-reading on what you might discover before you go. It allows you to get in there and start building an image of what to expect. Digital art voyeurism at its best. If you’re skint and can’t even afford to go down the shop, then it poses an educational alternative to Candy Crush Saga or that game with the birds. I mean really man, come on, your an adult, digital enlightenment starts now!

The Art Selfie function?

Ok, so back to the reason I downloaded this thing in the first place. I hoped my selfie would draw up some instant resemblance to one of Van Gogh’s lowland blond beauties or perhaps some handsome renaissance figure, but it didn’t quite pan out like that. Who did it with match me with?  


That’s right, Google reckons I have a 75% resemblance to the 17th-century Dutch author Arnold Hoogvliet (don’t worry I hadn’t heard of him either). And coming in at a close second with a 70% resemblance; yep that’s right, apparently, I look pretty similar to Niederländischer Meister’s “Portrait of an Elderly Woman” located at Staatliche Kunsthalle Art Museum in Karlsruhe, Germany.


So there you have it. I love when technology allows us the opportunity to laugh at ourselves whilst simultaneously opening our eyes to new art. Why don’t you give it a go and tell me what you think…

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