Google Yrself Clean
Words by Yvette Granata
September 9, 2020
Google Yrself Clean (2020) is an animated meditative essay on the softness of virus proteins, soap, the digital culture of DIY cures, and social media bubbles.
Viruses are neither alive nor dead and have no self-propulsion mechanism. A virus is the simplest form of genetic material on Earth, just a tiny piece of RNA, but it is ancient and very successful at survival. Humans have created a hierarchy of intelligence, where single celled organisms are at the bottom and human brains at the top of the order of complexity. Viruses are not even on the list of organisms. We believe that our complex cellular brain structures enable us to control problems and to engineer solutions, but the virus, even though brainless and immobile, has not only spread across the world, it has reorganized entire supply chains on both the micro and macro level. On the micro level, it reorganizes human cellular function. On the macro, it has halted economies and reorganized supply chains of goods and resources. All of these systems and supply chains were suddenly interrupted, reorganized around a tiny piece of RNA. Although the virus has this power to reorganize society, it is also so delicate.
This is the power of the minimalism of a virus: it expends no energy in its takeover. It turns human behavior into its engine. We become our own enemy. It does not control us, the virus merely exploits our inability. This is how the virus is also similar to social media. The same way that it turns our behavior into the enemy of ourselves, so too does social media. We cannot but help ourselves to bask in the glory of confirmation bias, dopamine hits from likes, the rush of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and beautiful lies. People look for information that confirms what they want to hear. They Google their actions clean, so to speak, to find what is needed to reason out of responsibility; so that they can be guiltless, maskless...
To Google oneself clean is to find what one wants, what one needs, online in order to believe oneself to be correct. To be correct is to be clean in the age of info war, bathing in social media bubbles, washing our minds like soft soap bubbles. Then there are the whispers. The comfort of ASMR. Listening to what you want to hear, to be comforted by believing that we can save ourselves. There is something poetic about how soft and delicate both lipids and soap are, but how destructive they are to each other. A warm fuzzy bubble bath becomes an invisible war zone, a whisper that is both soothing and sinister.
About The Artist
Yvette Granata is a media artist based in Detroit, Michigan. She works across multiple media and various forms of digital art to create immersive installations, interactive environments, video art, and hypothetical technological systems. She writes about media theory, philosophy, and digital media culture. Her work has been exhibited at the Harvard Carpenter Center for the Arts, The Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam, Viz Laboratory for Visual Culture in Athens, The Kunsthalle of Media and Light Art in Detroit, Papy Gyro Nights in Norway and Hong Kong, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center in Buffalo, among others. She has published in Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, Trace Journal, NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies, International Journal of Cultural Studies and AI & Society.