Left Image: Text Rain
screen detail

Right Image: Text Rain
Interactive Installation
screen: 4.5 feet x 6 feet

Camille Utterback
Romy Achituv

Text Rain is a playful interactive installation that blurs the boundary between the familiar and the magical. Participants in the Text Rain installation use the familiar instrument of their bodies, to do what seems magical - to lift and play with falling letters that do not really exist.

To interact with the installation participants stand or move in front of a large projection screen. On the screen they see a mirrored video projection of themselves in black and white, combined with a color animation of falling text. Like rain or snow, the text appears to land on participants' heads and arms. The text responds to the participants' motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again. The falling text will 'land' on anything darker than a certain threshold, and 'fall' whenever that obstacle is removed.

If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase. The falling letters are not random, but lines of a poem about bodies and language. As letters from one line of the poem fall towards the ground they begin to fade, and differently colored letters from the next line replace them from above. 'Reading' the poem in the Text Rain installation, if participants can do so at all, becomes a physical as well as a cerebral endeavor.

Supported by Interval Research Corporation, The Interactive Telecommunications Program, and The Greenwall Foundation.