Interactive media display created to bring Rochester 'Together'

Jaclyn Harold
Created: December 02, 2020 08:08 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- It popped up almost overnight, but local artist Kevin Dobbe said his new TOGETHER display in downtown Rochester has been in the works for months.

After the first shutdown, federal funding from the CARES ACT was awarded to several different projects and small businesses in the Rochester community. One of those projects included the art initiative. 

The city of Rochester partnered with a local non-profit organization called Threshold Arts. The Executive Director, Naura Anderson helped find local artists like Dobbe. 

"He does a lot of interactive video. So the video is actually, it's not just prerecorded something that shoots onto the together sign, but rather it's responsive to the activity in the street surrounding it," said Anderson.

When Threshold Arts could not execute the original plan to put a mural on the Conley Maass Downs building, the organizations started discussing projections.

Dobbe was contacted by Anderson due to his experience with interactive media, and the process began.

Following the first shutdown and the difference of opinions regarding the pandemic and restrictions, Dobbe said he started thinking of unity. Then protests following George Floyd's death took over the streets. That's why Dobbe said he knew that he wanted to create something that would cause the community to rethink what TOGETHER actually means for us at this time.

"We're living in pretty extraordinary times right now with the pandemic, I mean I'm giving an interview with a mask, you're socially distancing from me. The whole concept of together is really an unusual thing for us. But yet, this is an opportunity for us to kind of consider what does together mean," said Dobbe.

Two projectors and a camera are set up across the street from the canvas, and based on traffic and pedestrians about 60 different scenes are displayed on the piece at night. Dobbe said even when the canvas is blank during the day he hopes viewers still stop and think about what the word means for them.

Despite concerns about the funding going towards art around the city, Anderson said the federal dollars helped artists, who are also small business owners. 

"It's been a great way to put money into the pockets of artists who are small business owners who have seen a dramatic loss of income from other sources because of COVID-19," and a creative way to still share a special message from a local artist.

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