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Artistic Inspiration

Inside LACMA's Rain Room: LA's Most Captivating Exhibit

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Rain Room by Random International, 2012, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Copyright Random International. Photo courtesy Random International

Current Weather Report at at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art : Rain Showers— slicing the air in great, silvery sheets, hitting the ground with a splash and a deafening whoosh. However, those caught in this particular downpour will remain magically dry.

The Rain Room, an immersive, large-scale light and sound installation, allows visitors to walk through a simulated downpour. The special effect, created by the London design company Random International, functions through a computerized system of 3-D tracking cameras, which are placed at intervals around the ceiling. As visitors pass through the installation’s torrent of water, each camera detect their presence and pauses the rain directly about them— allowing a roughly six-foot radius of dry clearing. The effect, a blend of science, visual art and technology, is both haunting and strikingly beautiful.

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Rain Room by Random International, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Copyright Random International. Photo courtesy Random International.

One major contributor to Rain Room’s success is how visitors interact with the installation. The exhibit is extremely photogenic and a selfie hot-spot, thanks especially to a single bright, white theatrical spotlight that illuminates the falling water from the side. The rain is turned into sheets glistening silver, while visitors appear as backlit silhouettes.

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Rain Room by Random International, 2012, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Copyright Random International. Photo courtesy Random International.

The exhibit is also very exclusive, which helps drive popularity like a chic nightclub in Hollywood or a reservation-packed restaurant. Anyone can buy a ticket (a $10 or $15 upgrade to a general admission ticket) for 15 minutes inside, although getting that ticket can be tough, since the number of daily visitors must be carefully controlled. Any more than seven people inside at one time, and “Rain Room” can begin to experience technical difficulties — even to the point of overloaded surveillance cameras signaling to shut down everything.

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Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) east facade. Installation of Urban Light, Chris Burden. Palm Garden, Robert Irwin. January 2008. Copyright 2008 Chris Burden. Photo copyright 2008 Museum Associates/LACMA

The installation is the first exhibition in the museum’s recently launched 10-year-long “The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology at LACMA,” which is an outgrowth of LACMA’s 1967-1971 Art and Technology program. It will be on exhibit at the museum from Nov. 1, 2015 thru April 24th, 2016; please visit www.lacma.org for more information.

All Images used with Permission