When Google Arts & Culture’s new selfie-matching feature went viral earlier this week, many people of color found that their results were limited or skewed toward subservient and exoticized figures. In other words, it pretty much captured the experience of exploring most American or European art museums as a minority.
The app was launched in 2016 by Google’s Cultural Institute, but the art selfies made it go viral for the first time. The feature is currently available only in parts of the United States (a spokesperson said Google has “no further plans to announce at this time” for other locations), but it still managed to take Google Arts & Culture to the top of the most-downloaded free apps for iOS and Android this week.
The selfie feature shows how technology can make art more engaging, but it is also a reminder of art’s historic biases. It underscores the fact that the art world, like the tech industry, still suffers from a critical lack of…