Gretchen Andrew, a self-taught artist explores the educational value of the internet by creating an exhibition called HowToHowToHowTo, displaying GIFs of results, entirely learned from ‘How To’ Youtube videos.
Gretchen Andrew had been working in multiple fields in Silicon Valley from 2007 till 2010, including software engineer, business analyst and product manager.
She eventually ended up working for Google from 2010 to 2012. From that point she decided to try out art as well.
“When I quit my job I did so deciding that I wanted to become an artist,” she told The Creators Project. “I had no prior skills but really believed that the internet could make me into this thing by watching YouTube videos and finding content online.”
She says she started by getting a studio in San Francisco and began entirely relying on ‘How To’ Youtube videos with the moto of “fake it till you make it.”
“Looking on something like YouTube is really interesting because it works on a supply side and a demand side simultaneously,” says Andrew. “So you get people creating content that no one is watching but they’re still creating.
Then you get large corporations, like wikiHow, using Google search tools to see what people are searching for and then creating content based on that demand.”
She then looked even deeper in to ‘How To’ videos about how to achieve perfection for each body part: better legs, hair, lips, teeth etc.
“For each of those body parts, I then made GIFs of myself attempting to follow those instructions, looking at this absurdly formulaic idea of beauty,” she says.
She also explored the concept of “becoming somebody else” by eating what they eat, exploring the biological validity of the phrase “you are what you eat.”
“I knew that buying these creams or taking these pills weren’t going to make me perfect,” explains Andrew. “But you don’t necessarily know the exact texture of the failing until you go out and try. I knew that writing a novel would be difficult too, but now I have a better idea exactly how difficult it is and what exists between the YouTube videos saying do these exercises and then actually doing them. It acquaints you with yourself in a much more intimate way.”