Few weather-related conversations will upstage the talk of an impending El Niño in the coming months around Southern California, save one, and it will involve this: "Have you been to the Rain Room at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art?"
Sorry, El Niño. You've been momentarily unseated, in the "wet stuff falling from above category," by the brand-new installation at the Miracle Mile art institution.
At its most basic description, it is a room where it rains inside, the end, done.
But viewing it from a more layered, nuanced perspective, one could rightly say the Rain Room is magical, mysterious, an offbeat experience meant to jolt us, charmingly, out of our ho-hum, everyday expectations. Expectations that involve the natural world staying in its proper and expected place, like, for example, rain staying outdoors.
Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass are the artists behind the walk-in, walk-around piece, a piece where the rain stops wherever you happen to stand. The participation-required artwork was as hitty as hits come at the Museum of Modern Art in New York a few years back, summoning many wowed crowds, and it took London by storm -- heh -- before New York.
Are you going? Best don your flat-soled shoes and tuck these tips in the pocket of your slicker...
1. Tickets are required for the timed experience, so don't just turn up, hoping to get in, for the only wetness you may feel is some dampness around the eyes. (We're totally exaggerating; you may not be disappointed enough to tear up at missing the Rain Room, but maybe. Emotions are good.)
2. The rain in the room never fully stops, so you'll just need to be brave and step into the shower. It will stop when you step inside, thanks to a sensor that knows where you are, causing the water falling from the grid above to momentarily cease.
3. That said, do not move quickly if you want to stay fairly dry. Do not. Slow down. Make like a turtle. Stand, be in the moment, advance like syrup from a bottle or the shadow on a sundial. Take your time. Otherwise the sensor can't keep up and you'll find yourself having a moist moment.
4. The water is recycled and on a self-contained system. Good.
5. It's on the dark side in the Rain Room, with a single dramatic light illuminating the scene. Again, moving slow is sensible and rewarding.
6. Photos are allowed, and a young lady with a fetching umbrella was seen inside the room on its opening day. Just take care that your equipment doesn't get wet. Meaning move slow. Did we mention that already? Oh, we did but weren't plain enough? Okay, we'll say it again now: This is an experience best observed at an easy pace or, better yet, peaceful standstill.
7. And don't wear heels. The grate-like floor below you is ready to receive the falling raindrops, and not the pointy end of a stiletto. Maybe galoshes would actually work in the room, but some tennies or flat shoes are fine.
The delightful and drizzly Rain Room is open at LACMA through March 6. Which makes us ponder how some guests will actually be inside the room while those said-to-be-coming El Niño winter storms rage outside.
Which will be more dramatic, we wonder?
Both, we'll vote. So make it rain, LACMA, and you, too, winter skies.