Friday, 12 July 2013

Raining Hype

Catching a look at the "rain" in the Rain Room at MoMA

I was going to try to write about my multi-city trip in chronological order, but as we've seen and done so much I will probably be jumping around and writing about what made the greatest impression on me.

We wondered what was inside this room for over three hours
So... what is the longest time you've ever waited for something? And was it worth it in the end?

This morning we headed to the MOMA to check out the latest hot exhibit called the Rain Room by Random International.

A quick look at Random International or rather rAndom International's website doesn't seem to be functioning, or it wants to remain elusive about itself and its experimental projects?

The exhibition started on May 12 and ends July 28. Early on there wasn't much buzz about the show, which is a self-contained cube next to the MOMA on an empty lot. We tried to go there just before our cruise, but there was a massive line that meant we'd be waiting over five hours, but it was already early afternoon and it closed at 5pm.

Visitors walk through the "rain"
So we made a concerted effort this morning to head there early and with my cousin's membership to MOMA we hoped to jump the queue. However, there was already a line for members, with the first people lining up at 6.30am, even though the exhibit opened at 9.30am.

We waited, and waited and waited. Only 10 people were allowed into the large cube at a time -- but only every 20 minutes or so. What was in there? Was it really a big deal?

But people were willing to wait, checking their smartphones to kill time, getting coffee and having impromptu picnics on the ground, reading books or even playing cards and boardgames. One group was smart enough to bring stools to sit on.

So finally after over three hours we were allowed into the dark room. We saw rain falling from the ceiling and people in the rain -- though they were not supposed to get wet because of sensors above or below.

However we weren't allowed to go into the exhibit right away -- we had to wait another 15 minutes before we could walk into the "rain". But you had to tread slowly otherwise you'd get wet, and even if you did walk slowly, some of the sensors weren't working well...

There are sensors so that visitors aren't supposed to get wet...
Visitors were gently reminded to only spend 10 minutes in the Rain Room, but five minutes was plenty. In fact, the museum could have limited people's visit to move the line alone so that more people could experience it, but the staff just waited for people to finish their fun in the rain before allowing the next batch of people in.

The other option was to "visit" the exhibit -- walk alongside the rain and watch others experience it without getting wet. So while it was interesting to walk in the "rain", it really wasn't worth the over three-hour wait. But such is New York, where people are willing to try new things even if they have to wait.

A look at the Rain Room from the exit
This would never fly in Hong Kong where time trumps art anytime.

Speaking of which, what is the artistic value of the Rain Room?

Perhaps it's the concept of recreating the natural phenomenon of precipitation inside an enclosed space, but with the added coolness of theoretically not getting wet?



  1. Hmmm, I'm not so sure about this not being able to fly in Hong Kong. Remember, Hong Kong also is a place where if people see a queue form, they often join it without knowing what exactly they're queuing for! ;b

    1. Hi YTSL -- but I'm sure a review of the experience would be all over the media and so people would know exactly what they would be getting into! The younger kids would dig it, but that's about it... it ain't no rubber duck!