Event Review “The Rain Room” at The Museum of Modern Art

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Rain Room
The Museum of Modern Art
May 12–July 28, 2013

The line stretches through the lot and down the sidewalk, and it’s moving at a snail’s pace. As the hours go by and tempers rise, people begin to question if this is all worth it.

And then you walk inside.

And directly into a dream.

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The first thing you sense when you finally enter the darkened space, is the sound. It’s the sound of falling water, and as you turn the corner, you are met with an arresting sight: a darkened room, lit with only a spotlight, and a large block of rain falling from the ceiling. The guard nods at you, and you slowly approach it, your nose now picking up on the smell of water. You tentatively reach a hand into the falling droplets, expecting to be drenched in seconds, and instead feel…nothing. There’s a dry area surrounding your outstretched hand- a type of force field that is keeping it dry. As you make a slow wave, the dry area follows you. You take a deep breath and step fully into the room. Miraculously, no water touches you, and you start to feel a sense of joy and of play. You can control the rain!

Rain Room (2012) is rAndom International’s installation art piece currently on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the MoMA PS1 Exhibition (EXPO 1: New York). It is, in the simplest of terms, a literal room of rain. Hundreds of gallons of water are cycled through the room per minute, and 3D tracking cameras line the space, sensing its occupants and their movements, and repel the water from releasing up above them. It is best to move rainroom2at a moderate pace- too fast, and the sensors are unable to keep up, and you will get wet. rAndom International’s founders, Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass, and Hannes Koch, have been reticent in revealing the specifics of how it all works, allowing it to continue to be a fantasy and mystery to those who experience it.

Perhaps the best thing about Rain Room is the audience interaction component. Every person will experience the room in their own way and will become part of an unexpected show of immersive meteorology, so the room is always changing. It challenges participants to go against their ingrained responses while experientially engaging four senses at the same time. There’s a feeling of romance, delight, and contemplation at being able to literally control the water falling around you.

Rain Room is located in the lot space directly next to the MoMA and is included in the regular ticket price. It is open daily during normal museum hours. Entry is limited to only ten people at a time. The exhibit runs until July 28th.

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