Written by Elouise Paabo z5059584
The “Rain Room” is a digitalised experience of walking through rain, without the experience of actually getting wet. Originally created in 2012, the exhibit was held at the London Barbican, a performing arts centre in the City of London. The exhibit has returned this year to London, however tickets are currently completely sold out for the month of November, indicating the success of the installation.
The exhibit was an innovative 3D digital experience created by three contemporary artists and graduates from the Royal College of Art in London, Hannes Koch, Florian Ortkrass and Stuart Wood. After graduating College they went on to create their own art studio named “Random International” (Ruggiero, 2016).
Viewers of the exhibit are invited to walk through a one hundred square meter space of pouring rainfall. The rain operates through a digitalised stimulation of rainfall through using the sounds, humidity and visual experience of getting wet (Random International, 2012).
The perpetually falling water pauses wherever a human body is detected. The responses of each audience member are a crucial part in the perceived effortless behind the installation as the rainfall responds to their reactions through motorised mirrors. This conceptual framework behind the artwork allows for the audience members to actually become the subject of the artwork as the work changes each time a different person walks through depending on their direction of movement.
This installation henceforth offers an experience that has prior been known as impossible, to have control over rain. Evidently, the experience is not only technologically innovative but also conceptually innovative as the artists have defied our expectations with what we know to be possible. Perhaps with the creative knowledge in this exhibit, such ideas could be taken into the world of science to further understand how we may one day have a better understanding of controlling nature’s elements.
The interactive elements of this exhibit depict the advances in science and technology. Although some scholars perceive interactive art installations to be difficult to maintain, the social benefits are twofold, “Interaction experiences with public art installations are usually unidirectional and the actual experience not very rich…Yet by connecting visitor’s and computers physiologically, the installation can have a clear impact on social interaction” (Grenader et al., 2015).
The Rain Room has received unlimited praise with the help of social media and people posting beautiful photos from their experience at the installation. Instagram is often flooded with posts from the exhibit with hashtags such as: #inspire #loveLA #poetry. The use of hashtags further enhances the social networking and social connectedness that can be generated through the philosophical musings of interactive art installations.
Another artist that has made interactive artwork installations is Scott Snibbe. The particular artwork of his that I will be referencing is named, “Shy” and was created in 2003. Similarly to the Rain Room, the artwork changes each time a new individual interacts with the work. The work starts with a pure rectangle of white light projected onto a wall. Computer mediation is used to incorporate the person’s body with the projection. Each time the viewer moves their hand toward the projected box, the box moves on the screen. As this artwork was created in 2003 it was revolutionary for its time and the way it allowed technology and human interaction to develop (Snibbe, 2003).
Lastly, the artist Hitomi Sato has also created an interactive art installation that has revolutionised the way our senses are incorporated with our understanding of art. The artwork is a multi-sensory experience comprised of two opposite walls in which the viewer walks through. Protruding from the walls are thousands of pieces of transparent, reflective film that surround visitors in touchable shimmers. Sato is another artist that incorporates the elements of nature into her inspiration for the work as she states, “ripples on the surface of water, sunlight through the trees, rays from a break in the clouds, reflections on window glass” (Sato, 2016). Any of these everyday images might come to mind while engaging with her piece whilst creating sensations via view and touch.
Grenader, E., Gasques Rodrigues, D., Nos, F. and Weibel, N. (2015). The VideoMob Interactive Art Installation Connecting Strangers through Inclusive Digital Crowds. ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems, 5(2), pp.1-31.
International, R. (2012). Rain Room | LACMA. [online] Lacma.org. Available at: http://www.lacma.org/rainroom#about [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].
Ruggiero, L. (2013). ‘Rain Room’ at London’s Barbican. [online] Digital meets Culture. Available at: http://www.digitalmeetsculture.net/article/rain-room-at-londons-barbican/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].
Sato, H. (2016). Interactive Light-Inspired Installation Shimmers with Every Step and Touch. [online] My Modern Met. Available at: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/hitomi-sato-sense-of-field-light-installation [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].
Snibbe, S. (2003). Digital Art. [online] Scott Snibbe – Interactive art. Available at: http://www.snibbe.com/digital-art#/projects/interactive/shy/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2016].