It looks like you’re being drenched – but that would have been an absurd installation to bring to London. Instead, “Rain Room” uses computer vision to keep you dry. Photo courtesy Random International.

It’s all been done.

That’s generally the impression one might reach with interactive design, and perhaps in no technology more than the “follow visitors walking around the space” computer vision trick. But as interactive art matures, those basic tropes are becoming the basis of new, sometimes beautiful ideas. Case in point: London/Berlin-based agency Random International’s new installation at London’s The Curve, Barbican, “Rain Room.” The basic digital tech is that long-standing tradition, using vision to track the movement of visitors through space.

It’s the way in which the installation responds that is striking. Bringing rain to London certain qualifies as “bringing coals to Newcastle.” But here, the machine-controlled deluge avoids visitors through the space, affording them the rare feeling of walking through the rain while remaining entirely dry.

The ingredients, across 100 square meters, according to the creators:

Water, injection moulded tiles, solenoid valves, pressure regulators, custom software, 3D tracking cameras, wooden frames, steel beams, hydraulic management system, grated floor

It’s a God-like use of rain as medium, and – back to the Neo-Baroque I’m so often recalling on this site – another link to the fanciful past.

Rain Room at the Barbican from rAndom International on Vimeo.

Random International’s video above, followed below by a short piece now that the work is installed (by pressassociation, via The Verge). That’s Max Richter’s beautiful music in the RI film. If you go in London, we’d love your impressions.
Opening info, press clippings

Installed through 3 March 2013.