A few weeks ago I devoted this column to the increasingly-popular fascination with taking selfies in front of famous artworks or architecture. It probably comes as no surprise that the most prized selfie is one taken with the actual Mona Lisa in the background. So I guess we can now designate selfies as works of art (a designation that probably originated with Kim Kardashian’s big and expensive book of selfie indulgence, SELFIE). Of course, it shouldn’t be very difficult to Photoshop this kind of thing without the expense of flying to Paris. After all I have a very convincing copy of the da Vinci masterpiece in my office in Blountville.
Search With Your Selfie
Although I have never been to Paris like my daughter, who took a picture of the “real” Mona Lisa with her disposable camera back in the pre-selfie year of 2005, I have become fascinated with a feature of Google Arts and Culture called “Search With Your Selfie.” This neat little feature matches your selfie portrait with artworks from several centuries and continents. After the selfie is taken, your facial features are matched with at least five portraits that often bear an uncanny resemblance to your mug. Of course, we are often told that our double exists somewhere out there. Actually, you can be creative and take a selfie of any picture you wish and find a match for it. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It’s also a good way to embark on a art history tour because your selfie match is fully referenced.
As you can see, one of my selfie mates is an obscure 19th century Dutch landscape painter named Marinus Adrianus Koekkoek (1807-1868). Since submitting my selfie, I have learned quite a bit about Koekkoek, and probably will want to replace the ball cap I am wearing with Koekkoek’s outlandish headwear. And I have also learned about the other artists that share some of my facial features, although none of them wear glasses. Try this for yourself. It gives you some surprising results when you make funny faces. But don’t try this with your pets. Nothing was matched when I took selfies of my dog and two cats. I hope this deficiency will correct itself in future updates.
While you’re at it, take some time to explore other features of Google Arts and Culture if you haven’t already done so. Here you will find not only loads of information about art, but also fascinating essays and photo galleries about all aspects of cultural history, including Vintage Wedding Portraits, American Bison, Virginia Woolf’s London, the Woodstock music festival, tours of famous art museums and galleries, acontinuously-updated featured theme gallery (including such topics as “Harry Potter: A History of Magic”, ”The Hidden Worlds Of The National Parks”, “The Road To Equality,” and “Black History And Culture”) and an up-close-and-personal feature called “Zoom In” that lets you examine an artwork in the kind of detail you could never experience from a personal visit to the museum.
I must confess I have become an avid supporter of the Google universe.
For example, I write my columns each week using Google Docs on my Chromebook, create all my presentations using Google Slides, use Google Keep to store my notes and documents, enjoy the flexibility of using Chromecast for my classroom presentations and student sharing, consult Google Maps when I get lost (if only someone would create a mapping service for my brain during those many times I get befuddled and confused), listen to Google Music (in conjunction with my other music services) and read Google News every morning while eating breakfast. About the only Google suite tool I don’t use is Google Sheets, because I have never understood spreadsheets or ever had a deep inclination to do so, although I do have to fill out their spaces on forms and read them for reports and other unavoidable tasks.
Guess it’s about time I learned how to do this for myself, but I am in no hurry.
Of course, being a very curious person, I also use a wide variety of other news and culturally-related sources, except anything associated with Microsoft (unless I can help it, that is). It’s been well over a year since I composed anything using Word or created a presentation using PowerPoint. I like the totally web-based environment of Google, its utter simplicity, and the fact that is free. A disclaimer: I own no stock in Google and generally distrust any company that claims to be the “next big thing” or the answer to all our problems. Although I like to follow Groucho Marx’s advice about never trusting any organization that will accept me as a member, I will have to defer to Bob Dylan’s observation that we gotta serve somebody when it comes to making Google my go-to resource.
I encourage you to explore Google Arts and Culture this week and find your selfie mate. Post your results on social media and stir up interests in art history. A much better pursuit than examining conspiracy theories or staring at yet another meme.
See you next week in a non-selfie mode.