It doesn't rain often in LA... but when it does, it's hard to get a ticket?
I recently was given a much coveted ticket and reservation time to experience "Rain Room" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The highly anticipated work was created by designers Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, who are the co-founders of the London based art collective Random International.
The exhibit is a combination of technology, engineering, and visual arts. When their powers are combined, the superhero-like forces create a magical environment complete with pouring rain, and dramatically lit vignettes. There are connected panels on the ceiling that emit "rain." Each of those panels have corresponding censors on panels below them. If a panel below is stepped on, it sends a message to the ceiling panel directly above to stop raining, thus keeping the person standing in that square dry. Essentially, the participant is able to walk through the rain, and stay completely dry.
Visitors are given an allotted time to show up at the exhibit. Each group consists of about 10 or so people, who are led into the Rain Room together and given some simple instructions. Walk through the rain, experience the exhibit, but no more than 6 people should be inside the rain at a given time or it won't work properly. Here in lied the most interesting part of the exhibit for me - getting 10 total strangers to cooperate in a dark, chaotic, enchanting and time sensitive environment, without saying a word.
Immediately, there were some people who stayed on the perimeter, let others go head into the rain. There were those that dashed in for a moment to get a sense of the rain, but then quickly retreated to the perimeter to let others have a chance. And then there were those people. Yes, you know the type. They dashed in. They stayed in. They took selfies. A lot of selfies. Yeah, still more selfies.
In the end, everyone had the chance to experience the rain, and the beautiful silhouettes that were created with the single light emitted from the corner.
It seems deeply poetic that in the center of a town with a terrible drought, this installation brings together 10 Angelenos at a time, for a symbolic rain dance of sorts. And, for those of you wondering, this exhibit runs on recycled water and has no more of an environmental footprint than eating a hamburger. This is still LA, after all.
For more information: http://www.lacma.org/rainroom and http://random-international.com/news/