Choate House Art Gallery Gets Interactive


Derek Kademian, Arts & Entertainment Editor

It all starts with an idea, a plan to build something that helps improve on an original thought. This week junior media communications major John Robb did just that and it is on display for everyone to see, and to add to, in the Choate House Gallery. Robb’s solo exhibition requires participation from all parties as he created, Design That Works.

The six-piece, minimalist show explains what exactly goes into making smartphone apps as well as everyday utilities, as simple as a pair of scissors.

“The piece with the mug and scissors was actually supposed to be a joke,” honors program student Robb said. “I laid out instructions and features explaining the product, but in reality they’re all primitive things that don’t really need explaining because it’s human nature.”

After attaining an educational grant through Pace’s honors program, Robb has spent the past year culminating his vision to bring it to reality. Though working in app development for and KenKen (a puzzle game), Robb has been able to hone his edge when it comes to minimalism and functionality.

“One of the most interesting parts about this line of work is that you have to target specific audiences and what appeals to them” Robb said.

Which was the main function of one of Robb’s pieces that included the use of objects pertaining to specific demographic or personas. For instance when Robb chose college kind demographic he lists important items that most college students use the most; a smartphone notebook and various other objects. Whereas where he chooses the a more mature audience like a Hedge Fund Manager, the only items are a pair of ear buds, two smartphones and pack of gum.

Robb’s other pieces include similar themes although they are more interactive. One of these focuses on the use of iterations, which is the process of fixing or tweaking a product while it’s still in development.  He layered 3 dry erase boards, foam and pieces of paper that features various minimal shapes like a circle or cube. The viewer is then invited to interact with it by drawing with markers so they can improve the shape or how they would give it a purpose.

“I wanted to make it into an evolving process” Robb said, “I’m really excited to see where people take it and see how many times they edit or decide to change something.”

His other pieces include the use of projections and other things that make you question functionality and design through an interactive medium, which is rarity for exhibits at the Choate House Art Gallery.

“It’s really exciting to have a show like this in the gallery,” art Professor Kathryn Marohn said, “We tend to have a lot of similarities in the shows we have here, but John’s work is very different because its hands on and involves the viewer more directly.”

Even though the majority of Robb’s work will be taken down within the week, Professor Marohn is certain that at least one of his pieces will be featured in Student Show, which starts next week.