Aram Bartholl

Google Portrait Series drawings  2007-2009
Four Google self-portraits commissioned byMicrowave Festival, Hong Kong, 2009. Each QR-code represents a visual encryption of a search on ‘Aram Bartholl’ in a specific language on Google. 

‘Aram Bartholl’, Google search german
dimensions: 75 x 75 cm,
media: transparent paper, edding 850

‘Aram Bartholl’, Google search english
dimensions: 75 x 75 cm,
media: transparent paper, edding 750

‘Aram Bartholl’, Google search chinese
dimensions: 75 x 75 cm,
media: transparent paper stamp, stamp ink

‘Aram Bartholl’, Google search korean
dimensions:75 x 75 cm,
media: transparent paper, pastel chalk

A Google Portrait is a drawing which contains the URL of a Google search for a person in encoded form. Any smart phone is capable to decode the matrix-code (QR- code) with a barcode reader app. As a result the phone runs a Google search on the portrayed person in the browser.

Almost everyone can be found by name on Google nowadays. Even people who never used computers can be found because their names appear in scanned books on the internet. Almost everybody has at least once googled himself. ‘Ego-surfing’ is a very popular way to see what people find out about you googling your name. In that way the first 10 entries of a Google search result page represent the modern portrait. Who is this person? In what context does the name appear? What are the top links? Are there other people with same or similar name in the results? The portrait dynamically changes over time depending on the Google algorithms, the language of the search and of course by the activities of the person. Due to the omnipresence of Google people often care very much about their Google portrait and sometimes even hire specialized services to have the result page altered ‘actively’.

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