Kinetic Art in an Urban Landscape–just made for breathing lighter!

Earlier this year Jay and I visited a special LACMA exhibit, “Rain Room.

The experience brought me close to tears. The blend of science, visual art and technology, in what Deborah Vankin of the Los Angeles Times called a “meteorological sleight of hand,” made it possible to walk throughout the gallery in a downpour, yet never get wet.

It is breathtaking, and although I admit being prone to exaggerated bursts of enthusiasm, in this case I don’t believe I am overstating the experience! Although I long for a drought-busting natural rain event, this art installation has played in rain-drenched city centers to equally approving and enthusiastic crowds.

We entered in groups of no more than 20 people at a time, then moving across the wet floor, sensors detected our movement providing a six-foot radius of dry clearing around us. At the same time, rain poured in a dimly lit room resulting in a sense of private interplay with the rain.

Designers Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, cofounders of the London-based art collective Random International provide a brief video explaining their art experience objectives with some explanation of the design and technology specifics from London’s Barbican Centre and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. If you’re interested in the “how did they do this” background in an impressive art installation, it’s worth waiting through the 30 second advertisement.

LACMA has extended Rain Room from its original limited engagement dates. Advanced tickets are required and in great demand, but I highly recommend a visit. And for those who may be unaware, take advantage of the Los Angeles location and visit the La Brea Tar Pits right next door.

I thought back to the Rain Room experience when I read in the paper about a current art display in Pershing Square downtown Los Angeles. It would only be here for a few days and we had to decide quickly that it was something we would like to see. And I’m glad we did.

The location of Liquid Shard, a large-scale sculpture made out of not much more than mylar, adds to the quality of the experience because it can be enjoyed from the  ground perspective looking up into the sky and also from the high-rise office windows looking down.




Kinetic art doesn’t translate as beautifully in a photo. It’s the movement and resulting sound that makes this relaxing and hypnotic.


Created by local artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics, the piece rises from 15 feet off the ground to 115 feet in the air, and provides a place for people to slow down and “breathe lighter” in a very busy and often chaotic urban environment.

I’ve walked through Pershing Square dozens of times. We take the Metro Red Line (light rail) to the Pershing Square station when we are visiting the downtown Central Library. But that’s what we do–we “walk through” the park and pay little attention.

People of all ages were enjoying the reprieve from the heat and simply taking in the hypnotic motion. It was tremendously relaxing!

One gentleman was intent on capturing the experience by air with his drone photography. I felt very limited with still photography, but I encourage you to take a moment to experience Liquid Shard in motion.

I hope all my friends have a restful, breathing lighter weekend. If getting back to nature isn’t possible, then remember that even urban settings can provide meditative experiences. You simply have to let your imagine run free a bit!

30 thoughts on “Kinetic Art in an Urban Landscape–just made for breathing lighter!

    1. Both installations really are so interesting, Andrew. Isn’t it delightful to see how creativity is expressed so differently by individuals with a desire to simply express themselves. I’m glad they share their talent!

  1. Catherine Wade

    Wish I had seen this earlier in the week, I would have gone while I was off this week. It looks like an amazing experience. Sometime soon we’ll have to find one to go to together. Miss you at work.

    1. The original intention was to take the installation Liquid Shard down by yesterday, Catherine, but it has been so popular there was an indication it may remain a little longer. I’m not sure how we’d know the facts on that, but it might be worth investigating! I definitely miss you, too, my friend. I’m so glad you had a week off…when life settles, we’ll get together. 🙂

    1. I’m adjusting nicely to more freedom, Nancy. Some days I find myself a little at odds with myself because I don’t have specific goals and deadlines, but more and more I’m aware that this is a lovely gift! Our visit to the art installation downtown this week would never have happened had I been working, so that’s a nice realization. I think that I am identifying with how a cat’s attention may flit from one thing to the next. Isn’t that grand! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you took a few minutes to check out the videos, Amy. The installations are so much more beautiful and mesmerizing when you can feel the movement. I am so fascinated with the way creativity is expressed in such varied art forms! Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed them, too.

    1. That’s interest, Kate, to think that it may have “floated by you” so far from Los Angeles. I was curious, which encouraged us to go downtown, but it still surprised me that it was really very beautiful. I wouldn’t ordinarily think that mylar strips would excite me very much. 🙂

    1. Ha! I get that, Lori! I haven’t had a good drenching in so long that I am beginning to wonder if it will ever really rain again in Southern California. I was surprised at how sensory the experience was with the “rain” even without getting wet. The sound, in particular, impacted me. It may be the closest I get to a storm for some time yet. Liquid Shard was indeed more beautiful than I might have thought possible given its material. I love the image you’ve added of starlings. Thank you for that. 🙂

  2. Two amazing exhibitions Debra! That shard really does hypnotize and relax. The shadows it cast on the ground are so lovely. I like the idea of the rain room too – if I get caught in rain here it is usually a mad dash for cover and annoyance at getting drenched. I rarely stop and just ‘soak’ it up, which is what the rain room allows you to do. Thanks for sharing these with us!

    1. I’m glad you took the time to enjoy a minute or two of the Rain Room and
      Liquid Shard, Cathy. Both were a surprise to me and I was hoping they’d translate well enough to give you a nice impression of their impact. 🙂

  3. What wonderful expressions of art. And I can understand your emotional response when it comes to rain, living in place where waters is or has become a scarcity. Hope you can breath lighter in between, too. 🙂

  4. Just when I think life is slowing down, becoming redundant in art and creativity, I am made aware of something like these two installations and feel hopeful. How exciting – and how wonderful that you were able to see these, Debra, and had the time! Can you imagine approaching the shard unaware of what it is?
    I’m so happy for you, Debra. You are adapting beautifully.

  5. Wow! I was not aware of this art. I need to share the video with Phil. I think my eyes would get misty and would also goosebumps with such a display of the beauty of nature!

  6. Glad I popped back! I saw this on my mobile phone (but not very well 😦 ) yesterday morning and thought I had left a comment. Technology and aged users do not go hand in hand. Happy Sunday, Debbie! 🙂

  7. Debra, I love outdoor art and the rain exhibit was wondrous! Kinetic sculptures and structures fascinate me. They do add interest and depth to city scapes.
    I wondered (if you get time) if you had seen the beautiful small town art mosaic children’s mural in Ashley, Ohio? There are a set of posts I did last week? The children in third grade, about 15 – 20 minutes from my house had made little clay images of their faces and an art teacher, with an art grant hired two female artists to use crockery and mirror pieces to tell the history of the town.
    Summer is always hectic so u am very bad at keeping in touch. (46-48 hour work weeks and lots of time invested in precious grandies. . .) ❤

  8. I love that sculpture. Here it’s hotter than it’s been in years – actual temps of 106 and such intense humidity that the heat index is reaching 115 and up. It’s horrible outside, so the most time we spend in nature is taking Daisy to the end of the block and back! I can’t wait for this summer to be over!

  9. How very interesting, Debra, and so creative! To take a walk in the rain and emerge as dry as when you entered would be a mind-bending experience. On the other hand, Liquid Shard would represent what I feel is the ultimate kinetic art experience. WIth its appearance changing quite literally from moment to moment, one could easily “get lost” while gazing at its pulsating form. At first glance, it looks uniform but, with so many moving components, that just isn’t possible. I certainly would enjoy both exhibits and can only hope that one or both — or something similar — makes its way to Chicago next summer. I’d definitely be a repeat visitor. Thank you so much for sharing both with us. 🙂

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