Orchestrating Rain

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“But it’s all my surroundings that inspire me. That’s the beginning point of my composition really.”

– Yiruma[1]



The piece above is an excerpt from Kiss the Rain – a beautiful piece composed by a South Korean pianist, Yiruma. I fell in love with it when I had first listened to it in 2007. (the full original as played by Yiruma).


Listen to how each note is carefully orchestrated as if it were a drop of note falling into a pool of melody. There is rhythm – in the accelerated speed of each drop as it nears the ground as well as in the ripples formed in puddles of rain. If there is rhythm, then can we begin to orchestrate rain? Can that serve as the metronome for our 27 Steps in Purple Rain?


Drizzle or a Drop

Imagine peering into a well with a leaky bucket. As each drop of water from the leaky bucket drips back into the well, the sound echoes – sometimes as steady as a heart beats.

The artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer built a fantastic Pulse Room – an array of numerous light bulbs that hang from the ceiling.[2] There is a small device that a visitor can grab onto and it would be able to read his heart beat and translate that into the turning on and off of the light bulbs in a series. The whole room would then pulsate at the rate of his heart – his personal rhythm extends to room!


Pulse Room, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 2006
Image: Alejandro Biazquez

This personal connection is definitely something we’re aiming for the pavilion. Can each person produce a unique quality of rain that is different from his neighbor? What happens when two or three people enter the pavilion simultaneously? Would it be a rainier scene?


Pouring Rain

The Osaka Station in Japan has a great water clock exhibit.[3] Just as a printer knows on which line to eject ink or not, micro water dispensers along the top of the exhibit have been programmed to incrementally dispense small amounts of water so that by the calculated gravitational pull, the lines of water drops can formulate an overall image/text. Information competes with the speed of gravity and becomes instantaneous and fleeting –there is an urgency to be at the right time and place.

Osaka Station

Can we orchestrate the rain to invite large groups of people to come at a common hour and walk the 27 steps as a larger movement? It is an opportunity for individual journeys as well as for the collective – 27 feet vs. 27 miles.


After Rain

When it’s just rain, as in pouring rain, it becomes dull and, often time, annoying. But when we find shelter in the midst of a rainstorm, in this brief absence of rain, we start to appreciate the drips, the trickling sound, and the flow.

Ironically, the exhibit by Random International titled Rain Room, offers visitors this very absence of rain. I had walked through the exhibit in 2013 when it was hosted at the MoMA in New York – a dark room of pouring rain. Motion sensors tracked my movement and momentarily shut off the corresponding water nozzles so that I would remain dry as I walked through the rain. My movement, as well as each of the visitors’ prompted when and where the rain stopped – I became the conductor of the rain. 

Purple Rain Tribute to Prince at Rain Room, LACMA 2016
Image: Peter Flax (the Hollywood Reporter)[4]


27 Puddles

Just as water drops and forms multiple puddles along the road, can these first ’27 Steps in Purple Rain’ be the first of many global puddles of peace?


 “The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.”



[1] “Inspiration Is Everywhere For South Korean Pianist Yiruma”. 1993. Tribunedigital-Chicagotribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-07/news/sns-rt-australia-yiruma-pixl3n0di017-20130506_1_sony-music-australia-trip-composition.

[2] “Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – Project “Pulse Room””. 2016. Lozano-Hemmer.Com. http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/pulse_room.php.

[3] Hornyak, Tim. 2011. “Osaka Station Fountain Displays Time, Art In Water”. CNET. http://www.cnet.com/news/osaka-station-fountain-displays-time-art-in-water/.

[4] http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lacmas-rain-room-turns-purple-886982


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