Google’s Free App Analyzes Your Selfie and Then Finds Your Doppelganger in Museum Portraits

Hav­ing the abil­i­ty to vir­tu­al­ly explore the his­to­ry, back sto­ries, and cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance of art­works from over a thou­sand muse­ums gen­er­ates nowhere near the excite­ment as a fea­ture allow­ing users to upload self­ies in hopes of locat­ing an Insta­gram-wor­thy dop­pel­gänger some­where in this vast dig­i­tal col­lec­tion.

On the oth­er hand, if this low-brow inno­va­tion leads great hordes of mil­len­ni­als and iGen-ers to cross the thresh­olds of muse­ums in over 70 coun­tries, who are we to crit­i­cize?

So what if their pri­ma­ry moti­va­tion is snap­ping anoth­er self­ie with their Flem­ish Renais­sance twin? As long as one or two devel­op a pas­sion for art, or a par­tic­u­lar muse­um, artist, or peri­od, we’re good.

Alas, some dis­grun­tled users (prob­a­bly Gen X‑ers and Baby Boomers) are giv­ing the Google Arts & Cul­ture app (iPhone-Android) one-star reviews, based on their inabil­i­ty to find the only fea­ture for which they down­loaded it.

Allow us to walk you through.

After installing the app (iPhone-Android) on your phone or tablet, scroll down the home­page to the ques­tion “Is your por­trait in a muse­um?”

The sam­pling of art­works fram­ing this ques­tion sug­gest that the answer may be yes, regard­less of your race, though one need not be a Gueril­la Girl to won­der if Cau­casian users are draw­ing their match­es from a far larg­er pool than users of col­or…

Click “get start­ed.” (You’ll have to allow the app to access your device’s cam­era.)

Take a self­ie. (I sup­pose you could hedge your bets by switch­ing the cam­era to front-fac­ing ori­en­ta­tion and aim­ing it at a pleas­ing pre-exist­ing head­shot.)

The app will imme­di­ate­ly ana­lyze the self­ie, and with­in sec­onds, boom! Say hel­lo to your five clos­est match­es.

In the name of sci­ence, I sub­ject­ed myself to this process, grin­ning as if I was sit­ting for my fourth grade school pic­ture. I and received the fol­low­ing results, none of them high­er than 47%:

Vic­to­rio C. Edades’ Moth­er and Daugh­ter (flat­ter­ing­ly, I was pegged as the daugh­ter, though at 52, the resem­blance to the moth­er is a far truer match.)

Gus­tave Courbet’s Jo, la Belle Irlandaise (Say what? She’s got long red hair and skin like Snow White!)

Hen­ry Inman’s por­trait of Pres­i­dent Mar­tin Van Buren’s daugh­ter-in-law and defac­to White House host­ess, Angel­i­ca Sin­gle­ton Van Buren (Well, she looks ….con­ge­nial. I do enjoy par­ties…)

 and Sir Antho­ny van Dyck’s post-mortem paint­ing of Vene­tia, Lady Dig­by, on her Deathbed (Um…)

Hop­ing that a dif­fer­ent pose might yield a high­er match I chan­neled artist Nina Katchadouri­an, and adopt­ed a more painter­ly pose, unsmil­ing, head cocked, one hand lyri­cal­ly rest­ing on my breast­bone… for good mea­sure, I moved away from the win­dow. This time I got:

Joseph Stella’s Boy with a Bag­pipe (Maybe this wasn’t such a hot idea with regard to my self-image?)

Cipri­ano Efsio Oppo Por­trait of Isabel­la (See above.)

Adolph Tidemand’s Por­trait of Guro Sil­vers­dat­ter Tra­ven­dal (Is this uni­verse telling me it’s Babush­ka Time?)

Johannes Chris­tiann Janson’s A Woman Cut­ting Bread (aka Renounce All Van­i­ty Time?)

and Anders Zorn’s Madon­na (This is where the mean cheer­leader leaps out of the bath­room stall and calls me the horse from Guer­ni­ca, right?)

Mer­ci­ful­ly, none of these results topped the 50% mark, nor did any of the exper­i­ments I con­duct­ed using self­ies of my teenage son (whose 4th clos­est match had a long white beard).

Per­haps there are still a few bugs to work out?

If you’re tempt­ed to give Google Arts and Culture’s exper­i­men­tal por­trait fea­ture a go, please let us know how it worked out by post­ing a com­ment below. Maybe we’re twins, I mean, triplets!

If such folderol is beneath you, please avail your­self of the app’s orig­i­nal fea­tures:

  • Zoom Views — Expe­ri­ence every detail of the world’s great­est trea­sures
  • Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty — Grab your Google Card­board view­er and immerse your­self in arts and cul­ture
  • Browse by time and col­or — Explore art­works by fil­ter­ing them by col­or or time peri­od
  • Vir­tu­al tours — Step inside the most famous muse­ums in the world and vis­it icon­ic land­marks
  • Per­son­al col­lec­tion — Save your favorite art­works and share your col­lec­tions with friends
  • Near­by — Find muse­ums and cul­tur­al events around you
  • Exhibits — Take guid­ed tours curat­ed by experts
  • Dai­ly digest — Learn some­thing new every time you open the app
  • Art Rec­og­niz­er — Learn more about art­works at select muse­ums by point­ing your device cam­era at them, even when offline
  • Noti­fi­ca­tions — sub­scribe to receive updates on the top arts & cul­ture sto­ries

Down­load Google Arts and Cul­ture or update to Ver­sion 6.0.17 here (for Mac) or here (for Android).

Note: We’re get­ting reports that the app does­n’t seem to be avail­able in every geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion. If it’s not avail­able where you live, we apol­o­gize in advance.

via Good House­keep­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Google Gives You a 360° View of the Per­form­ing Arts, From the Roy­al Shake­speare Com­pa­ny to the Paris Opera Bal­let

Google Art Project Expands, Bring­ing 30,000 Works of Art from 151 Muse­ums to the Web

Google Cre­ates a Dig­i­tal Archive of World Fash­ion: Fea­tures 30,000 Images, Cov­er­ing 3,000 Years of Fash­ion His­to­ry

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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