“In a nutshell, it’s about the dream of flying.” That’s Jussi Ängeslevä, creative director of German design office ART+COM, speaking on video about the firm’s new installation in Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Kinetic Rain is an installation made from 1,216 aluminum raindrops, coated in gleaming CNC-milled copper. Each of the droplets is suspended from the ceiling by a thin steel rope, connected to a system of individual motors embedded in a drop ceiling. Hanging in a 30-foot-high atrium of Changi’s newly renovated Terminal 1, the copper bells rise and fall in sequences programmed by ART+COM’s computational designers. At certain moments, they converge into shapes—a parabolic arc, or even a sketch of a jet plane. At other moments, they fall through the atrium like actual raindrops. “We are in Singapore,” adds Ängeslevä in the making-of video, “in a way, it’s a tropical theme, in the form of rain.”
ART+COM used custom-developed software to choreograph the droplets into elegant patterns and volumes, which coalesce and dissolve over 15-minute intervals. Each droplet acts like a pixel, creating an extremely low-res 3-D screen (Core77 calls it "a mechanical hologram!"). The effect reminds us of another recent piece of public art—Jim Campbell’s 2010 light-bulb-as-pixel screen in Madison Square Park. In that installation, Campbell used advanced computational software to produce incredibly lo-fi 3-D drawings. Could a DIY version of these high-tech, low-res 3-D screens be far behind?