This App Finds Museum Portraits That Look Like You Based On Your Selfies

by Crystal Duan
Google Arts & Play / Crystal Duan

I don't like seeing pictures of my face up close. You could say I'm the polar opposite of a selfie queen — I even once tried to have a finsta (fake Instagram) to practice posting selfies in and quickly abandoned it. When Snapchat first released its face swap feature, I was appropriately weirded out that I didn't know how to sit still staring at my face for long enough for it to work.

But there are exceptions to where I'm willing to put my mug. And one of those exceptions is this new "Google Arts and Culture" app that pairs you with the best sorts of doppelgangers: portrait doppelgangers. Who needs celebrity doppelgangers when you can find a person that looked enough like you to have a portrait painted of them?

You see, any time you ask yourself, "hmm, do I look like the Mona Lisa or is there someone else out there who's better?" now you'll have an answer. If you've ever wanted to learn about art by seeing who your famous portrait doppelgangers are, you're also in for a treat.

Currently, you can't actually use an already existing picture. Thus, you gotta snap a nice picture of yourself for the app. After that, you should be able to use their very, very comprehensive system to identify who your twin in the art land is.

When you get to the home page, scroll down and eventually, you'll see this thumbnail on your screen:

Google Arts and Culture

Next, take a selfie and then swipe left to reveal your new matches (it might take a few tries, though. The app is buggy).

Google Arts and Culture

And then, there's more:

Google Arts and Culture

It's a pretty handy app. The percentages never went over 50 for me — this Fang Junbi piece is the closest I got — but see for yourself what results you can get.

A glance at the site reveals its origins: Out of the kindness of its heart, Google decided to partner with many cultural institutions to use technology to preserve artifacts and educate people on their historical significance. On the site, you can do things like go take a virtual tour of Machu Picchu, examine Japanese craft, take a tour of the great outdoors with the U.S. National Park service and access over 1,000 different types of museums. Oh my gosh.

There's also a "paint in 3D" aspect that looks at the intersection of art and virtual reality. Ironically so, it doesn't look like you have to leave your house to explore the art scene anymore. You can just plop on your couch, turn on Chrome Cast, and explore hundreds of virtual digital exhibits or take different selfies to find more and more paintings out there. I am seriously amazed.

The craziest aspect is this section of it all called "The Lab." This is an illustration of how tech can help museums firsthand, from building interactive walls to house exhibits in (like the National Museum of Korea) or a collaboration with world-renowned designer Es Devlin's pop up sets, or creating even more user-friendly VR experiences in Hong Kong. Essentially, these are all different sorts of "interactive artworks powered by machine learning," and are another sign that Google is taking over the world.

Ultimately, the portrait app is just a gateway drug to everyone diving into the world that is Google's collaboration with art, and now you can scroll through any museum from the streets of Rio de Janeiro to London, England to Rome, Italy.

For me, I'm just waiting to see if there will ever be an app that has more portraits for me and my Asian features.