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Unexpected edges and the Proximities of Rain 

Our experience of rain is one of being inside it. We understand rain as wetness. We understand it with our bodies in the moment that we collide with it. It is an experience of being totally immersed, surrounded and implicated. Like Random International’s Rain Room but in reverse so that the rain falls only onto the spot where you are standing. So to see rain the from the outside then is suddenly a strange sensation. It is the strangeness of seeing that it has a body and this body has edges. Of realising that there is a moment when you could walk right to edge of the rain, step out of it and then back in. It is the strangeness of seeing it in it’s objective wholeness from an angle that we rarely catch a glimpse. And so I watch the rain fall while I stand in the sun, peering into this strange weather like I am standing at the window of a terrarium, face pressed against the glass watching with this peculiar weather unfold. 

Random Internationals Rain Room installation at the Barbican, 2012

There are some things you don’t expect to have edges, that you forget have either physical or temporal beginning and endings. Like street lights. You forget that there is a moment in the day that they are turned on so that if I am ever out cycling right in that moment to see them turn on, I always feel like I have witnessed something rare.

Or country borders. There is an invisible line that decides when you leave one and enter the other. A mischievousness giddiness of jumping back and forth between timezones, wondering when the jet lag will kick in, becoming suddenly sceptical at the arbitrariness of these imaginary lines. Shouldn’t it feel different or something?

But unlike this, there is nothing negotiable about the edge of rain. It is undeniably, without a doubt a boundary one that I will experience with my entire body. It cannot be missed. So I went looking for this edge the way one might go hunting for the end of a rainbow. But by the time I arrived, the clouds had passed and there was only the darkened concrete to confirm that the clouds with great wispy fingers pouring downwards, was indeed rain. 

There are proximities of rain. The scales along which we come to know it by. There is the macro to micro, the standing back or curled within. And maybe there is even is a step closer than being rained onto that you can get; being rained into. This is the embodying of rain, so that it flows through your pours, your eyes, your runny nose as you come in from the cold. A couple days later, when I came back to my room from a walk, I realised I had left my windows open during an unexpected yet torrential downpour. Water was still streaming from my eyes as it streamed from the gutter onto my window sills, dripping from there onto my desk and then the floor, my sofa in direct line of the other open window as the rain soaked into every fibre. I had gone from being so outside of the rain, to feeling like it had encroached onto every surface I knew, absorbed beyond the periphery of my skin. Because as I sat on my dampened sofa, I realised the rain was not falling onto me but through me.  


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