Random International: Rain Room

As you know from my previous post, I spent the last few day’s in London, a place that my regular readers will know I love! The day after the Heroes & Villain’s Christmas Party myself and a friend took ourself down to the The Barbican; Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue presenting a diverse range of art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative learning events. The reason we chose The Barbican was to check out The Curve‘s latest art installation – The Rain Room.


A Rain Room does sounds like a hard sell in itself;  inviting Londoners out of the rain and into the… rain. But this Rain Room is different. No need to bring your brolly.

It is a fairly straightforward concept, in the Rain Room a clever grid on the ceiling simultaneously detects movement below and releases a deluge of water. The water slips through the cracks of another lattice on the floor and as you walk into it the downpour ceases in front of you (as the ceiling senses you). Pretty clever hey.

The Barbican website states that due to the popularity of Rain Room, the queue time currently stands at around two hours, at peak times including evenings and weekends up to three hours. So for this reason, we arrived nice and early at around 11am just as it opened.

Queue Friday Midday

Pictured above is the queue as we left, it was perhaps 20 or so people left when we arrived. At 11am it took no longer than 30 minutes to reach the front of the queue as around 5-7 people are let in at once. When you reach the front of the queue you are presented with the following leaflet informing you of the story behind Rain Room.

Rain Room Leaflet

On entering the Rain Room, you reach another small queue of people, those who were let in just before you. Visitors can choose to simply watch the spectacle from there or find their way carefully through the rain, putting their trust in the work to the test. The strap line is that it offers the chance to “experience what it’s like to control the rain”, there is a sort of empowerment to it, but mostly it’s just wonderment.

Rain Room 1

As you walk into the rain the downpour ceases in front of you – as the ceiling senses you – walk forward and you’ll be surrounded on all sides by rain. The sensors leave a rather large area around you but I thought this was necessary and I was carrying quite a few bags and wanted to ensure nothing got wet. If you were to make a sudden movement the sensors may not be quick enough and a splash of rain would hit you but it was nothing torrential.  Whilst we were there, there were two kids running around the area, both their t-shirts were understandably covered in blotches of rain as they were moving too far for the sensors to catch them, still they looked like they were having plenty of fun.

Rain Room Ceiling

It has to be said that there was something rather magical about being surrounded by this carefully choreographed downpour and the sound of water. It was somewhat refreshing and relaxing. Random International are known for their distinctive approach to digital-based contemporary art, their experimental artworks come alive through audience interaction and staged performance and this piece certainly reflected that.

Walking through the Rain Room

The Venue

ADDRESS – Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, England.

DATES– 4 October 2012 to 3 March 2013

OPENING TIMES – Open daily 11am – 8pm; Thu until 10pm (last admission to the queue approximately two hours before closing)

WEBSITE – http://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=13723

TWITTER – @BarbicanCentre

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/BarbicanArtGallery

Admission is Free. 

P.S. Here’s a Rain Room Spotify playlist by The Barbican to listen too whilst you’re in the queue http://open.spotify.com/user/barbicanmusic/playlist/3yH2Jhxyfxf0FX0UnwLCSL