Take a Breather with Kinetic Rain – The Largest Kinetic Sculpture in the World

Written by: Antony Hampel

kinetic rain - ant hampel blog

The word ‘airport’ does not usually conjure up associations with modern art. In fact, few people think of airports as aesthetically pleasing environments – most visualise grey walls, sterile lighting and (extremely) uncomfortable furniture.

However, Changi Airport in Singapore wants to change all of that. In 2012, work was completed here on the largest kinetic art sculpture in the world. It is called Kinetic Rain and it still stands in Terminal One today, where it dazzles visitors with its motorised performances.

The Kinetic Rain sculpture was created by German design house ART+COM and it is made up of 1,216 aluminium rain drops. These rain drops have been cast in bronze and attached to motorised pulleys suspended from the terminal ceiling. As every single rain drop has its own motor, they can all be directly controlled – in this case, by a computer.

This remarkable metallic ballet swoops and glides, pirouettes and soars, according to a range of programmed sequences. The rain drops, being individually moved, can be used to create an endless array of aerial patterns and configurations. With Kinetic Rain, ART+COM have created a sculpture which is truly alive.

kinetic sculpture - ant hampel blog

It constantly shifts and changes, so that the artwork formed at one second is something different in the next. The metal rain drops might be programmed to replicate the crashing of an ocean wave or the gentle undulating of jellyfish tentacles. They can take on the shape of a kite, a bird, or a hot air balloon.

It is a fascinating spectacle and surprisingly minimalistic for what is, essentially, a very hectic and commercial context. There have been more than a few examples of garish airport artwork over the years (see the now infamous ‘evil robot horse’ at Denver International), so it is refreshing to see it done right.

According to the team which created the sculpture, Kinetic Rain is designed to encapsulate the tropical climate of Singapore. The original brief also made it clear that the artwork had to commemorate the much loved Mylar Cords water feature which stood in the terminal before it was refurbished in 2008.

So, the choice of rain drops perfectly matches the location and personality of the city, which is often dubbed ‘the garden city.’ It rains a lot in Singapore but, fortunately, nobody could ever call Kinetic Rain a washout. If you ever find yourself in Changi Airport, you absolutely must take a few minutes out of your day to slow down, relax, and admire something beautiful.

by: Antony Hampel