June 6, 2013
ART BLANCHE: Rain Room
When it rains, it pours. Especially during MoMA PS1’s Expo 1: New York exhibition.
I was stunned to hear that attendees have been waiting 5-6 hours in line to check out Random International‘s installation/environment Rain Room, which provides guests the opportunity to control the rain.
Utilizing digital technology to keep guests dry within a constant downpour, the PS1 outpost at the Museum of Modern Art on 54th Street has become a destination for anyone who has ever wanted to control the weather everyone. Lit only by one spotlight, attendees are admitted into a controlled rainstorm, which clears a path as they navigate through the space.
On the day I decided to devote myself to waiting in line for Rain Room, it was supposed to rain. “Why should I stand in line for who knows how long, in the rain, just to go stand in the rain,” I asked myself. Still, I didn’t want to miss out on an installation that has been described as “dreamy”, “intense”, “mind-blowing”, and “by far, one of MoMA’s most unusual and talked about exhibits”, according to Kemberly Richardson of Eyewitness News.
Luckily, Rain Room opens one hour early for MoMA members, and there is no time limit once you’re inside. Armed with my D-SLR, I queued in front of the temporary structure and prepared myself for the deluge.
Upon entering the extremely dark room, which is lit by only one spotlight at the opposite end, I immediately felt the damp chill of the rain as my eyes began to adjust to the darkness. Eventually, I was able to make out a square patch of rain continuously falling in the middle of the structure, and dark figures dashing back and forth in front of the spotlight, in their own quiet paths of dryness.
The most exciting part of the experience came when I first entered the rain, unsure of whether my path would be cleared or if I’d be drenched by the downpour. Once within the storm, I meandered about, incredulous, as I remained completely dry. It was a multi-sensory experience, heightened by the sound of the deluge.
Although I joined the queue with skepticism, it was quite a unique, thought-provoking experience, which called to mind the way we, as humans, interact with the environment, and the effects of technology on the way we experience our world. I’m not sure I would have waited for 5 hours, but can you really put a time limit on how long you would wait for the ability to control the rain?
Rain Room is open through July 28. Photos by Meri Feir and myself.