One described it as a woman, deep in thought. Another talked about the colors—“pale blues make me happy.” A third, in a word: “solemn.”
Thanks to the new œu·vre app—launched to the public on April 28 and designed by a team of seniors in the Design & Media Studies department—I was able to see these reactions from the other people at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) to Andy Warhol’s iconic “Jackie,” and even post mine as well.
“What we are wanting is people to talk more about art,” senior, main MAG contact, and group PR leader Svetlana Shaindlin said. “Digital media is a great way to draw people to the museum and enhance their experiences.”
When I went to the event, I was actually unsure of what to expect—the flyers were a little ambiguous. Saying that œu·vre is pronounced like “Ooooo, bruh” but with a v instead of a b doesn’t exactly explain what the app does, either.
Senior and head coder Karina Banda gave me a tour of the MAG, scanning her phone slowly over paintings in the first room. Watching her reminded me of having Snapchat open and waiting for it to recognize a face for one of its filters.
When she scanned it over the “Jackie” painting, a question mark appeared over it. She clicked on it, and the app gave us 30-second timer, telling us to study the painting as it counted down. Then, it asked a question: “How would you describe this piece to someone else?” After answering, I could swipe through answers that other people had left.
“The real importance behind creating the app was to encourage people who aren’t comfortable with art,” senior and group project leader David Libbey said. “[People think art] is for people who are knowledgeable and wealthy, and we want this app to kind of be a platform for people who maybe don’t have the access or opportunity to that education but still have something say.”
“Whatever they have to say is a valid thing,” he added.
Except for the time it sometimes took the app to recognize the paintings it has been programmed to put question marks over, I experienced no bugs.
The team behind it, however, including senior Emma Pollock—who is in charge of the website and design choices—admits that there are improvements to be made.
“Maybe it’ll go somewhere in the future, hopefully,” Shaindlin said. “I want people to try it; we do want people’s feedback.”
Shaindlin explained that, design-wise, œu·vre could stand a few alterations.
Director of Academic Programs at the MAG Marlene Hammon additionally suggested a content filter, like what the anonymous app Yik-Yak uses.
Currently, 15 pieces at the MAG are programmed into œu·vre. The team initially intended 20 pieces, but the app could not recognize them for structural reasons. œu·vre is available online at www.oeu-vre.co through December of this year.
The creation of a digital space to talk about art does offer people a more approachable way to talk about art. This, of course, requires people who already do. œu·vre may not be an app for people who do not already think about art—but it is an app to think about.