Rain Room at the Barbican
The Rain Room at the Barbican has been one of the most talked about installations recommended this winter. Being an engineer and biased towards the technical side in these sorts of things I found a photographer friend for an arty opinion and time during reading week between coursework to stand in the forty-five minute queue.
The room is a mixture of theater and cave. We walked into darkness with just a single light. Travelling through a cube of dense rain water is an experience most Londoners are all too familiar with, but as we moved onto the raised platform the water divided, making us strangely aware of our movements and going against our instincts. As people walked past, the water moved away from them and traced paths through the rain.
Controlled by 3D tracking cameras, the water is linked to the positions of people within the room, stopping as you move on the platform. It’s minimalist and forces you to trust the design. Place a foot or an arm anywhere on the platform and the rain will part like a curtain away from it.
As a piece of design it is wonderful. It feels as if every single aspect of the experience has been pinpointed minutely. It combines technology, environment and consideration for the human form in such a way you could call it choreography. However, the queue time was off-putting to many people. If you aim to visit, go early in the day. The queue is shorter and you’ll be able to have more time experiencing what was envisioned by Random International: A piece of the environment plucked out to be examined and moved for you.