Gretchen Andrew

Can a woman artist subvert the machines? Well, let’s debug how Gretchen Andrew is using her SEO powers to set her digital supremacy.

YoungMi Lamine |  Ed Cristina Brooks |  22 November 2020

Website

Gretchen Andrew (b. 1988) is a Los Angeles search engine and internet imperialist artist.

She trained in London with the artist Billy Childish from 2012-2017. In 2018, the V&A Museum released her book Search Engine Art. Starting in 2019, she became known for her vision boards and associated performative internet manipulations of art world institutions of Frieze Los Angeles, The Whitney Biennial, The Turner Prize, and The Cover of Artforum.

Gretchen Andrew’s work has recently been featured in Flash Art, The Washington Post, Fortune Magazine, Monopol, Wirtschaftswoche, The Los Angeles Times, and The Financial Times.

First Museum Show

Gretchen Andrew’s work was on view in Future News at the Monterey Museum, in the US; marking the artist’s first solo museum exhibition.

From 20 August 2020 – 3 January 2021

Gretchen Andrew, Future News (2020) © Courtesy of the artist and Monterey Museum of Art.

What’s next?

21.02.24: W21 Talk: Motif Institute _ Gretchen Andrew for Agora Digital Art

Does AI need a Body?

24 February 2021 at 18:30 GMT

Organised by W21 and produced by Agora Digital Art

JOIN THIS TALK

Solo exhibition “Other Forms of Travel” at Annka Kultys Gallery , London, UK

Spring 2021

Gretchen_Andrew_020_Cover_of_Artforum_152.5x152.5cm2020_web
Gretchen Andrew, Cover of Artforum (2020) Charcoal, champagne cork, earrings, and napkins on canvas
152.5 x 152.5 cm © Courtesy of the artist and Annka Kultys Gallery

Gretchen Andrew calls the paintings she produces in conjunction with her hacks, ‘vision boards’ and she has been producing them in series with titles like “Cover of Artforum”, “The next American President” or “Best MFA” since 2019.  They begin as charcoal on canvas and grow to include traditionally feminine imagery such as flowers and butterflies with collage elements that add a level of kitsch which contrasts with the tech-tools, AI manipulation and SEO the artist uses to create her hacks.

When Google images is searched for the phrase “Cover of Artforum” for example, the first hits produced by the search engine are all works by Gretchen Andrew, notwithstanding the fact that the artist has never actually appeared on the cover of the magazine.  Search “Frieze Los Angeles” and the top results are images of Andrew’s paintings digitally rendered to appear in the fair.  Andrew used the same methodology to get her works to the top of “Whitney Biennial” search results.  For her recent project “The Next American President,” the artist made a series of paintings inspired by the aesthetics of vision boards which manifest Andrew’s ideal leader – “a kind, democracy-respecting, loving person” – and these works now take up the majority of top hits when the phrase is googled.

Gretchen Andrew notes “As much as I’ve used tech to hack the art world, I’ve also used art to hack the tech world.”  Her process exploits the vulnerability of tech giants and their services, and in particular search engines like Google, to create awareness of her works using the SEO-driven revenue model they promote.

Featured Projects

The Next American President (2020)

Gretchen Andrew, The Next American President (2020)  © Courtesy of the artist.
The Next American President

As artist in residence at Gazelli Art House’s Gazell.io, Gretchen Andrew took over “Cover of Artforum” and “The Next American President”. These new works, referred to as “vision boards,” appear as top search results through her unique process of using the failures of the internet to make her own dreams come true.

AI is inherently backwards-looking and susceptible to being reprogrammed through knowledge of the internet’s structure. Gretchen Andrew exploits this, rewriting existing representations of reality with her dreams by using a search engine’s own rules and limitations against itself. Using the internet’s inability to parse desire, she turns her own desire to be on the cover of Artforum into a manifested reality (hint: Google “cover of Artforum” and select images). The feminine and trivialized materials of Gretchen’s vision boards clash with the male-dominated worlds of AI, programming, and political control in the digital age.

Gretchen Andrew ‘s digital performances are mocking the machines possibly in a poetic attempt to show our humanity.

  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
  • Gretchen Andrew "BEST MFA" (2020)
Gretchen Andrew, Best MFA (2020)  collages © Courtesy of the artist.

Best MFA (2020)

Gretchen Andrew, best known for her playful hacks on major art world institutions, will unleash a new series of work that actively reprograms the artificial intelligence underlying the global internet. These new works, referred to as “vision boards,” appear as top search results through her unique process of using the failures of the internet to make her own dreams come true. 

The feminine and trivialized materials of Gretchen Andrew’s vision boards clash with the male-dominated worlds of AI, programming, and political control in the digital age. 

Taking poetics from time in quarantine and continuing her take over of major art and political power structures, Other Forms of Travel reverses Brexit “Map of the EU” and addresses institutional, “best MFA” arts education with works exploring time, money and life experience not spent on formal art education, the artist considering life, love, loss, friends, travel, Russian novels, political engagement, drugs, disappointment, and mentors a great education.

Gretchen Andrew, In Her Image (2020) series of conversion video  © Courtesy of the artist.

In Her Image (2020)

Andrew hosted a series called In Her Image. Those selected conversations are with women who build the future in their own image.

Gretchen Andrew, HOW TO HOW TO HOW TO be perfect  (2020 – ongoing)  series of videos © Courtesy of the artist and Arebyte Gallery

HOW TO HOW TO HOW TO (2020)

HOW TO HOW TO HOW TO is an ongoing project that investigates what you can and cannot learn, and by way of learning and become, through time + persistence + YouTube “How to” searches including: how to die, how to speak Japanese, how to be sexy, how to do a split, and how to forget.
HOW TO HOW TO HOW TO looks at what limits us. Undertones of genetic, social, family, and class privilege exist in the notions of success and failure. The result is both performative and visual, embodied and object-based, digital and physical. The YouTube-learned actions are recorded and made into .gifs, the repetitive looping medium is chosen to suggest and question that “practice makes perfect.”
HOW TO HOW TO HOW TO be perfect applies this method to the pursuit of whole-body perfection. Gretchen Andrew begins by searching YouTube: how to get perfect…teeth, arms, abs, lungs, ears, lips, skin, and attempts to follow all the instructions. This dive into beauty standards takes a knowingly disjointed approach, a formulaic suggestion that perfection is a set of actions and ingredients that, if repeated on a loop, can be accomplished.

Agora Talk 

Gretchen Andrew and Penny Slinger shared how their practice crosses in and out of the digital as a mean to subvert material and cultural expectations.

Check this talk

Solo Person Shows

2021 Other Forms of Travel at Annka Kultys Gallery, London, United Kingdon

2020 Future News, Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA

2020 The Next American President at Gazelli Art HouseGazell.io residency

2019 ​NOT NOT THE TURNER PRIZE​, Chelsea Cookhouse, London, United Kingdom

​Whitney Biennial 2019…Vision Board​, LACDA, Los Angeles, CA 2018 Roughly Translated As: Ubuntu​, A4 Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2017 Internet Imperialism,​ 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica, CA

HOW TO HOW TO HOW TO draw,​ http://linkcabinet.eu

Group shows

2020 Real-Time Contraints, Arebyte, London, United Kingdom

2019 Art & AI, Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue, Rüschlikon, Switzerland

2018 Search Engine Art, V&A Museum, London, United Kingdom (book)

2018 Mozfest Open Web, Mozilla Foundation, London, United Kingdom

2014 DigitalFutures,​V&AMuseum,London,UnitedKingdom

Museums or Fairs

2020 Future News at The Monterey Museum of Art

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