If you’ve been on social media in the last two days, you’ve no doubt seen the Google Arts and Culture app–you know the one, where Google scans its curated archives of gallery and museum collections to match a selfie with a work of art.
It's spawned think pieces and revealed Renoir or Degas dopplegangers for a slew of your friends, so you’ve also probably downloaded the app yourself, only to scroll in a desperate search for the feature. You won’t find it if you live in Houston: Because Google still considers it experimental, the viral feature is blocked in certain regions–ours included.
Have no fear, for there’s a workaround to ensure you, too, can be woefully insulted by the app’s algorithm. Simply connect to a VPN—virtual private network—of another region, like New York, where the feature is alive and well.
Free apps like ExpressVPN make this process easy and intuitive. Just download both apps–Google Arts and Culture and a reputable VPN connector—choose a location to establish a connection, and voila—you’re now ready to determine if you’re the next Mona Lisa.
Once you snap your selfie, the feature will give you a range of matches ranked by how close they are to your likeness—mine hovered somewhere between 30 and 50 percent. I was actually satisfied with my comparison to a portrait of Martha Graham, the so-called mother of modern dance, who my coworker deemed “a f***ing LEGEND” while congratulating me for my 41 percent similarity.
Unfortunately, the app requires you take a selfie in real time, meaning no uploading embarrassing snaps of your friends you’ve saved on your camera roll for this purpose (or, for me, my cats back home in Vermont). Perhaps Google is open to suggestion in this experimental phase—if so, we recommend remedying that, and also: Stop blocking Texans from getting in on this.