LACMA’s Rain Room, has been extended through July 2016, and Instagram has been full of excellent drop shots since the opening last November. Some are quite good, but from what we’ve seen, none really captures the intangible magic of the experience. And, perhaps that is exactly what the artists are exploring: the irresistible, but vexing, tension between nature and technology n our every day lives.
Two artists worked together to create the impossible: Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, co-founders of the London-based art collective Random International, challenged themselves to make it rain indoors, and their intention is to question our assumptions about technology and its ubiquitous role in our lives. The Rain Room is essentially a surveillance machine. Sensors capture movement and stop rain from coming down as visitors pass (slowly) through the space. In fact, you can’t move too quickly under the ceiling, or you will get hit with drops. (Though kids may find this the best part of the exhibit – testing the system and getting wet!)
Koch and Ortrass’ pose a question that arises more and more frequently in our daily lives. What is the hold that technology has on us, and specifically on our children? Are we fooling ourselves that we are in control of this relationship? What are the positives and negatives of our reliance on technology: can it save us and should we trust it?
The role of the artist in society is to question values and assumptions. Despite an outward appearance of being about the environment (rain… indoors…), the Rain Room asks a different question: Can we regain control over our natural lives? Is this really how we want to live? Or, should we push back? Parents can gently raise these issues with kids after being in the space – kids will be caught up in the fun of the dark magic space, testing the drops with their movements, but don’t miss the chance to talk about the bigger issues.
Restoration Hardware and Hyundai are sponsors of the Rain Room at LACMA, which is set up as part of the Art + Technology project started fifty years ago by California Light and Space artists, including James Turrell, who inspired Koch and Ortkrass. It’s not clear if the piece will remain at LACMA permanently, so families should make haste to get reservations soon, and assume that the show is only open through spring 2016.
The museum has already sold 22,000 timed entry tickets, so go online today and find a slot. Seven visitors are allowed in at time, for 15 minutes. Although same-day tickets will be sold if people don’t fill their reservation slot, this is not a reliable plan for entry. (Besides, if you promise rain to your kids, you want to be sure you can get in the room.)
Here is a link to reserve your tickets.
ADVICE FOR VISITORS from LACMA:
- Pack light and wear light-colored clothing.
- Please be aware that this is a dark installation featuring falling water. It is possible that you and any camera equipment may get slightly wet. We encourage you to prepare accordingly. LACMA will not be responsible for loss or damage to any property or equipment brought into the exhibit.
- In order for the technology to work most effectively, visitors are discouraged from wearing dark, shiny, reflective fabrics, or fabrics made of raincoat material.
- High heels are not permitted and shoes must be worn at all times.
- Large bags and backpacks are not permitted. A bag check is not available.
- Visitors should proceed slowly through the installation.
ABOUT THAT WATER:
In case you are wondering if it’s environmentally correct to create a rainstorm during a drought, put those fears away. A mere 528 gallons in total are used in the show, and the drops are recycled for repeated use, as well as checked for cleanliness by an inspector weekly.
Here is an interview with the artists on LACMA’s blog, Unframed.
Here is an article from the LA Times in which the writer walks through the installation with the artists.
Here is our article about LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab