Gretchen Andrew is a vibrant female artist who hacks systems of power with art, code, and glitter. In 2018 the V&A Museum released her book Search Engine Art. We wanted to chat to Gretchen ahead of her solo show Growth Hacking at Galloire art gallery in Dubai.
Could you tell us more about yourself?
You might know that my background is in both technology and figurative oil painting. You might also know that I use the language and culture of manifestation and Law of Attraction language within my own form of Natural Language Processing, but it might not be obvious that my technical process has become a personal one for me too. Not just using it to reprogram Google into making my dreams come true, but also using it to reprogram my own mind out of limiting beliefs.
Why did you decide to start hacking systems?
In wanting and believing I was capable of certain things I knew that I couldn’t want for a formal invitation to present my work. We often have to invent our own opportunities and that creation is itself an art form.
Do you feel you have less support as a female artist?
I think the key to being a successful artist is to always elevate my work to make work that is sincere to your experience.
For this exhibition I made artworks that visualize what it will feel like to have my work sell for a contemporary art auction record knowing that this elevation of my work would also shift the gender balance from the 2% of the market women make up. I then crudely photoshopped the works into scenes from Christie’s and Sotheby’s and used the linguistic power of desire and the inherent limitations within code to have Google return them as top image results for “contemporary art auction record.”
I didn’t wait to be invited into the art world, by reprogramming Google and Facebook to present me as having already arrived, I hacked my way in. Now that I’m here I’ve received a warm welcome. I think many people can identify with the feeling of having something to say but not yet being given the platform to say it from. My practice is about the individual journey each of us takes to make our dreams come true, especially when we Don’t have the official pedigree, or any formal invitation. My work is about using technology as a tool to get people to see us the way we want to be seen, and the places we want to be. Part of that journey for me has been defined by the perceptions often associated with my gender,
What did you achieve with your hacking practice?
The process of my hacks are evolutions of becoming. I am pleased with where my work has led me lately, here for example. I am replacing my ambition with more desire. I desire growth while at the same time my current status makes the journey more joyful.
Do you feel technology gives you more opportunities as a female artist?
My work is grounded in the histories of painting and institutional critique at the same time it is ultra contemporary because I am dealing with the particular question of our time. These are important conversations, who has power online, how it is exercised, where does it come from, what can we do to accrue more of it for ourselves as creators? With women being under represented in both art and technology I think my voice helps give permission to those who wish to also see themselves seen as visionaries within these fields.
What new opportunities have NFts brought to you as an artist?
With the skills I have, I am very employable. When I hacked the 2020 USA presidential election results I knew that those conducting information wars online would love to hire me. I am constantly recruited by Big Tech firms. I work as an artist to remain as independent as possible and NFTs are now part of making sure I am rewarded for the work I am doing and are additional support in ensuring I only work with great, honest, and elevating people.
How can you define the relationship between you and your collectors?
My relationship with my collector is always unique to the person or institution. I love connecting with people through their passions and so it is not surprising that many of my collectors are friends. At the same time, as my work deal so much with data and privacy I have some very private collectors.
With NFTs my collectors are often individuals who believe in me, my work, its current and future value and want to be part of it without owning physical objects. NFTs are an art form that allows people to invest not just in a work but in me as an artist with a life’s work in development.
Could you share more about the upcoming exhibition at Galloire?
Growth Hacking brings together the floral metaphor that has been used a symbol of beauty, luxury and growth throughout art history together with my methods of Google manipulation, getting these physical artworks that are covered in glitter and fake flowers to appear as top search results for “contemporary art auction record” replacing Jackson Pollock, for example.
Growth Hacking opens on the March 8, 2022, and will be open to the public until April 7, 2022. Visit the exhibition at Galloire located on London Street, City Walk, Dubai (opposite La Ville hotel) 10am-10pm daily.
More info on https://www.galloire.com