Individual Work
Text Rain

Text Rain is an interactive installation piece created by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv in 1999 in which digital letters fall down and collect upon the silhouettes of inanimate objects as well as active participants, allowing them to directly interact with the letters as if they were tangible objects, effectively merging the digital and physical realms. The installation consists of a small “room” with a white background on one side of the room and a large screen covering the opposite wall. Participants are asked to move around in the room while facing the screen and the camera imbedded in the wall; the video tracking software records the movements of the participants, enabling direct interactions between the letters and the participants. Text Rain functions by using a monitor that tracks the movement of specific color gradients, searching for a precise degree of pigment. If the pigment is dark enough, the falling text will rest on top of the silhouette and pile up like snow on a roof, allowing the viewer to directly interact with the text. The computer code for Text Rain generates both the letters on the screen and responds to movement caught on the video tracking software and adjusts the virtual display accordingly.

Utterback describes Text Rain as a “…physical as well as a cerebral endeavor” that is meant to combine the familiar physical world with the unfamiliar digital world.

The letters that fall are taken from Evan Zimroth’s poem “Talk, You,” from his 1993 book Dead, Dinner, or Naked and the participants could form words and even phrases from the poem;

I like talking with you,
simply that: conversing,
a turning-with or -around,
as in your turning around
to face me suddenly …
At your turning, each part
of my body turns to verb.
We are the opposite
of tongue-tied, if there
were such an antonym;
We are synonyms
for limbs’ loosening
of syntax,
and yet turn to nothing:
It’s just talk.