The Team Behind Rain Room Have A New Exhibition With Drones

+/- Human, Roundhouse ★★★★☆

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The Team Behind Rain Room Have A New Exhibition With Drones +/- Human, Roundhouse 4
Watch them float around and descend close to your head. Copyright Ravi Deepres / Alicia Clarke.

A pack of white orbs lift off from a balcony before flying overhead, sometimes co-ordinated and in formation but occasionally bumping into each other. After a few minutes they start descending towards us until they're almost within touching distance, but then they suddenly retreat like a timid bird.

This interactive art installation is the creation of Random International — the team behind the incredibly popular Rain Room.  It's showing at the Roundhouse in Camden, a dimly lit venue which is ideal for this atmospheric experience.

They will always remain just out of reach. Copyright Ravi Deepres / Alicia Clarke.

The orbs are essentially drones — they hover using mini-propellers — but, cleverly, their movements don't feel mechanical. They behave more naturally, as if they are giant flying insects navigating a new world for the first time, leaving us humans feeling like the intruders.

The sound of gentle music and the whirring motors of the drones makes for a serene experience and though they get pretty close to our heads it never feels threatening — after all, a gentle shoo-ing motion will send them scattering in fright. We know they are machines, but we keep assigning emotions to them, and that's the effect the artists were looking for — the work is called Zoological for a reason.

Copyright Ravi Deepres / Alicia Clarke.

This experience needs to be seen and felt first hand to really appreciate how fun it is; though we feel the ticket prices are a little steep given most people will only spend a few minutes in here.

On top of the installation, choreographer Wayne McGregor has organised performances in the space where dancers will interact with the drones, with the two sets of performers reacting to each other's movements.

Technology is changing the face of art and this is another example of how to merge the two effectively.

+/- Human is on at the Roundhouse until 28 August. The installation is open daily and tickets are £5 (pre-booked) / £7 (on the door). The performances are only on Friday and Saturday nights and tickets are from £15.

Last Updated 13 August 2017