Gretchen Andrew's latest artistic stunt? Manipulating Google search results for 'the next American President'

·2-min read

As nearly 100 million Americans have already cast a ballot ahead of this Election Day, many of us are wondering who the next American President will be. Donald Trump? Joe Biden? If you turn to Google Image to discover the face of the new Commander-in-Chief, you will discover that Los Angeles–based artist Gretchen Andrew has tricked the search engine into displaying her latest series of collages.

Andrew, who used to work at the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley before pursuing an artistic career, has manipulated search engine optimization to display her new works among the first results in Google Image.

Instead of finding all-too-familiar images of Donald Trump and Joe Biden when googling "the Next American President," internet users will discover three vision boards that the self-described "search engine artist and internet imperialist" has created as part of her latest series. 

These artworks are a literal interpretation of the philosophy of the "law of attraction," as they feature motifs that express the different desires that Andrew has for the next inhabitant of the White House. 

For instance, "The Next American President, Blue" is made of materials like flowers and glittery roses in the hope that the next Commander-in-Chief will "respect nature and be serious about global warming." Additional vision boards included in "The Next American President" series reflect on issues such as female reproductive rights and foreign interference in US politics. 

"I want the next American president to believe in love, harmony, choice, nature, respect, democracy, joy, science, international corporation, campaign finance reform, and the rule of law," Andrew outlines on the project's website.

While her most recent trickery delves into the political realm, the American artist states that she does not want "to confuse people." "I want to confuse machines. I want people to be laughing at Google. If we can get both sides of the political spectrum laughing at big tech, that's a good thing," she told Artnet News. 

In recent years, Andrew has also manipulated algorithms and search engines into making her "win" the prestigious Turner Prize… or at least for Google. Like she did for "The Next American President," the digital artist associated her name and works with the annual award through sites that are favored in Google's search, such as Twitter, WikiHow, Pinterest and Quora. 

"The Internet can be seen as a global subconscious and, much like our own subconscious, it cannot tell the difference between a hoped-for future intensely imagined through art and what has, in fact, already occurred," Andrew notes on her website.