London Culture on a Student Budget

Georgie Coupe takes us on a tour of London’s cultural activities on a student budget. This week, she explores the Barbican’s new Rain Room

Barbican Culture London Tab Rain Room Tab

My weekly cultural suggestion is aimed to inspire UCL students to break the usual routine of moonies-lectures-roxy-lectures etc. and see something cultural. All suggestions, will be fun, fascinating and most importantly, free! This week, I went to explore the much anticipated Rain Room at the Barbican.

Photography: Caitlin Fogarty

The work of Random International has always involved audience interaction and this installation at the Barbican is no exception. The focus of light on the one hundred metre squared downpour of rain and the carefully crafted positioning in the otherwise dark room creates a beautiful spectacle in it’s own right but the interactive nature of this project is what makes it so unusual. Visitors make their way down the dark passage to find a perfect square of rainfall with additional sounds of water in the Barbican’s Curve room. Visitors are to test their confidence in the technology developed by Random International and walk through the downpour of water in any direction trusting that the cameras will sense their presence. Ensuring that the technology works no one gets wet! The 3D cameras and sensors detect movement to stop the rain in a sort of cylindrical shape around your body as if it is giving off a sort of magnetic field against the water. The experience is baffling!

This installation certainly challenges our trust in technology. Random International’s desire to change the focus from the object to the experience is evident in this project as audience participation is essential to communicate the installation’s exploration of human behavior towards new technology. The Rainroom also delves into human and science’s control over their surroundings creating an inquiry into the effects our behavior has on the space around us. In the past Random International’s work, such as the much acclaimed Audience (2008) has used interaction to highlight the relationship between new scientific developments and people. A highly enjoyable and exciting experience, I would recommend the rain room to everyone whether an art fanatic or not.

Note: It can get very busy at peak times, avoid the crowds by going during a weekday.
Nearest underground: Barbican
4th October 2012 – 3rd March 2013
Entry: Free