The Google Project - 2010-2015
“The Google Project” began as an artistic interaction and documentation of the “web” and “image” results from Googling “Leah Schrager” in response to her online micro-celebrity and as an attempt to retain anonymity. “Part I (Removal)” 2010-2012 involved removing images of herself from Google search results, then reconstructing her face in photographs, and finally saying goodbye to her family via video. However, in an act of Revenge Tagging in 2013, a Youtube commenter “DirtyLove4812” linked Sarah White and Schrager, which quickly made it to the top page of Schrager’s search results. This led her to move on to “Part II (Multiplication)” with the goal of dissembling her identity through posting false information and problematizing the true material and thematic nature of her art. Finally, during “Part III (Conflation)” 2014 she developed a group of Onas (online personas) and discussed them theoretically as a generation of people. She also documented other artists whose Google searches conjured up multiple people and/or very different aesthetics.
Part I: Facetook (Removal)
In 2010 I was in an “internet accident” and from 2010-2012 I removed images of my face from the web. I emailed publications and blogs and was successful in removing all images of my face from the the Google Search results (save for one image). Inspired by the current technological obsessions with facial reconstructions, the predominance of women’s faces in the media, and the Internet’s ability to archive faces via Facebook and Google, I comment on having my face taken and my attempts to reconstruct it. Facetook began in 2010 and was presented at Chashama in NYC in 2012.
This “Internet Accident” was later revealed to be that I went viral under a pseudonym Sarah White and was hiding my identity. Why? The reasons are manyfold and include wishing not to embarrass my family, wanting to preserve my personal security, and because in 2010 being anonymous online felt natural.
Google Images: I was able to remove over 20 images that showed my face from Google Images. There was one I was not able to remove.
Goodbye Video: In “Goodbye Video” I say goodbye to my parents and give my reasons for reconstructing my face. After undergoing the reconstruction I made my first appearance at “Spring Break,” through Chashama Gallery in NYC on March 24, 2012 during which I crowned myself Prom Queen.
Above are facial reconstruction mockups.
Below are screencaps from the documentary footage taken my Louis Timmy.
Revenge Tagging / DirtyLove4812
GF Revenge is an act done often by a man in which he posts a naked photo of an ex-girlfriend on a website – this may be linked with her name and even home address. What happened to me is an act of what I am calling, Revenge Tagging. In it an anonymous user commented on two videos of Sarah White that it was Leah Schrager. This was a cause of great anxiety for me as I was holding public performance art events and my home while simultaneously receiving hate and death threats via email to Sarah White. Also, it effectively destroyed Google Part I.
I contacted the owners of the video and tried to get the comments removed. I was able to for the second video, but not the first. I tried reporting the comment to YouTube and they did not remove the comment.
Despite my attempts to bury the link through multiplication, it moved from page 5 of my web Google Search results:
to page 1:
This made me move on to the next stage of my Google project. The comment remained through 2014 and in 2015 DirtyLove4812 disappeared.
Part II: Multiplication
“The Internet is a surveillance state” – Bruce Schneier, Security Technologist
After Part I and the act of Revenge Tagging I realized that subtraction was insufficient to evade google search and I switched to a practice of multiplication. The goal is to dissemble my physical, geographical, artistic, and social identities as they can be known via search engines, websites, and social media by problematizing the true nature of my art, posting misleading information on my Facebook profile, and using the comment feature and the collective’s images to show increasingly confusing results as to who “the real” Leah Schrager actually is. The collective is calling this a Google Flood.
Given recent trends such as GF revenge, online reputation management firms and concern over NSA surveillance, I am carrying out this project not only to protect my personal safety but to raise awareness of the Internet as an unregulated space in which bullying, surveillance, and misinformation are allowed to lawlessly disseminate without regulation or concern for safety.
The Full Disclosure (made at the end of the Google Project) is that the profile photo of each of the artists in The Collective is a digitally manipulated image of Leah herself. Every artwork presented by the members of the collective is in fact a photograph that posed as multimedia and multidimensional artworks.
The Collective: ThisIsLeahSchrager.com was a collective of artists working under the name Leah Schrager formed in 2013. The website provided details on each member’s biography, artistic statement and art works.
The Collectives Mission: On The Nature of Digital Art. Interested in the flow of medium to image to website, to social networking, to search engine, to desktop, the collective’s mission is to investigate questions of online identity, internet surveillance, artistic representation, web marketing, and self branding.
I propagated the collective through my personal facebook:
Part III: Conflation
Part III unfolded during 2014. It is an exploration of artist branding, web identity, and social media reach. I initiated this step through an interview with Bullet Media in which I came out as The Naked Therapist, carried it out thru the proliferation of multiple onas during art school, and discussed it theoretically as Ona Gen, a generation of people.
In my Google Search Result explorations I became fascinated with art-world-artists whose Google Search images conjure up multiple people and/or very different aesthetics.