Rain Room


It’s Raining Indoors!

BY: LIAU SHU JUAN
Top picture by Christopher Pledger

Throughout human history, we’ve seen the projections of man’s dreams- dreams to fly, through the Wright Brothers and supersonic jets and dreams to communicate, through the telephone and the Internet. Here we have dreams to control the weather through Random International’s Rain Room.

Rain Room is a hundred square-metre of falling rain through which it is possible to walk through without being drenched in the process. The installation surrounds the viewer’s body so one views a surreal rain-drenched world of perfectly spherical rain drops and the odd blurry figures of other viewers moving slowly amidst the downpour, captivated by the rain. As various people navigate through the rain and create new paths, it is an installation in flux.

Viewers first enter a darkened passageway where they hear the sound of rain and smell its freshness. As they reach the gigantic installation, the sound of rain water thundering 1000 square feet down overtakes one’s senses. It is raining indoor and people are walking through, unsoaked.

Unseen cameras lined the edges of the ceilings to ascertain one’s physique and send the information to a computer. The computer tells specific valves, which shoot forth water from atop the ceiling, to ‘switch off’ as one walks past the camera and through the downpour of water.

That’s their secret.

But do you care?

In this age of new media art, the technological aspect is either heightened or concealed. In Rain Room, it is concealed, spectacularly, till you feel you’re Moses parting the Red Sea.

Rain Room is a metaphor for three rites of passage- outside, inside and emerging from the installation.

Outside, you watched the torrential downpour of rain in your original self. Inside, you undergo the ‘baptism of water’, experiencing a transformation on a physical and psychological level as the rain parts to make a path for you. Even though the rain does not physically touches you, the experience of being enveloped by them, together with the empowering sound of 1000 liters of water falling per minute, is akin to a catharsis of mind and body. Water is after all a medium for purification. You emerged, a newer self, having experienced the power of dominance over Rain.

One cannot help feeling a state of awe at the paradoxical linkage between technology and nature.

Is this the world of the future? Just like the romantics who draw close to nature as a reaction against the industrial revolution, Rain Room allows urbanites to draw closer to nature using, ironically, technology developed post- industrial revolution period.

Maybe rain coats and brollies will not be needed by then.

Disclaimer: All views on the site are solely of the author’s and in no way are a representation of any individuals or organizations.

Copyright © 2013 Liau Shu Juan.

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