You may have noticed a few historical pictures appearing on your Facebook or Instagram feed lately, shared by friends and celebrities alike? If so, you’ve probably been hit by the latest viral sensation; the Google arts and culture app.

The app was introduced in 2016, however a recent update allows the user to compare a selfie to famous works of art to find the closest resemblances. Though a slice of fun, celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Kristen Bell, Minnie Driver and Ryan Seacrest have shared socially, helping publicise the app to the masses and assist in the overall success of the app, apparently now downloaded over thirty million times, according to Google.

The user uploads a selfie to the app, which then searches through thousands of artworks within its database, matching facial points of similarity until it finds your closest resemblance. It also provides an percentage of how alike the two images are. Whilst a high proportion of the matches do have many similarities, a number go in the opposite direction, with the unpredictability becoming the source of much amusement, and non-matches being shared almost as much as the matches.

The app has also raised questions on biometrics, or the specifics of being able to use aspects of physicality such as a person’s face or DNA, particular in states such as Illinois and Texas which both haves laws against using these. This however goes against the argument that the app is educating, introducing a wider audience to the art world.

Richard Lowe