Chinese Theme Park Rips Off Random International's 'Rain Room'

'Rain Room' | © designmilk/Flickr
'Rain Room' | © designmilk/Flickr
Photo of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor17 May 2017

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this Shanghai-based theme park may have gone a little too far.

Esteemed tech art collective Random International achieved widespread acclaim for Rain Room (2012), an immersive installation of falling water that senses and subsequently navigates around human presence.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Rain Room would find its permanent home at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)—but that hasn’t stopped the production of unsanctioned replicas being distributed around China.

In 2015, the real Rain Room was temporarily exhibited at Shanghai’s Yuz Museum. It proved to be so influential that imitations were spotted in Shanghai while Random International’s magnum opus was still on view; but even after its de-installation, more replicas were spotted in Beijing and beyond.

Now it seems a knock-off version of Rain Room, referred to as Magic Rain Zone, will be permanently installed at Jiajiale Dream Park in Shanghai.

Random International co-founder Hannes Koch discovered that a number of Chinese websites offer faux Rain Room versions for rental. “Given that we don’t speak or read Chinese, it’s a bit hard to tell how many are out there, but we reckon there have been around eight to ten attempts to rip off the work by now,” Koch said. “And that’s not including the reported Rain Room rental agency, which used everything from our name to our graphics and exhibition history and even copied the architecture.”

According to The Art Newspaper, a spokeswoman from one of the Chinese companies referred to these replicas as “Rain Zones,” insisting that while the concept is similar, the work is unique. Unsurprisingly, Random International remains unimpressed, and plans to make Chinese authorities aware of these businesses. Koch claims that these “shockingly inferior” versions are actually “a lethal threat to the elderly and children,” due to faulty technology.

In the meantime, Pace Gallery (representing Random International), is working with the Yuz Museum to investigate the extent of these copyright infringement cases.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room | © Helsinki Art Museum, The Broad/WikiCommons

Rain Room isn’t the only point of artistic inspiration for the creators of Jiajiale Dream Park either, which is also said to include plans for a Dots Obsession-like room and a fake Infinity Mirrors room à la Yayoi Kusama, amongst other artist replications.

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