Daisy Redux: Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) 1969 by Andy Warhol with Digital Augmentation by Refik Anadol
By Jody Zellen
Through February 17, 2017
As part of the original Art + Technology program at LACMA (1967-71), Andy Warhol created Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall). Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) was a collaboration between Warhol and Cowles Communications and consisted of 80 lenticular prints of a single daisy arranged in a grid positioned behind a water-spray system that created a continual cascade of water. Produced in an edition of four, the work was exhibited in galleries and museums world wide. Over time the water-spraying apparatus became dysfunctional and most of the lenticular images were destroyed due to water damage. Today all that remains of the edition are 65 lenticular prints which are in the collection of former LACMA curator Maurice Tuchman. Paul Young, in conjunction with Tuchman and digital artist Refik Anadol have revised the work, now titled Daisy Redux bringing the work anew to Los Angeles audiences after a 45 year absence.
The installation embodies a large dark space. At the end of a labyrinth of scrims and mirrors speckled with flowing dots of light that sign for raindrops, one finds the 65 daisies. Arranged in a five by thirteen grid, the works shimmer in the spotlight. Brightly lit, these images pop in the otherwise darkened space. The 3D effect of the lenticular prints is accentuated by the flickering of the digital projections. The daisies are meant to be the reward for traveling through the digital rain, however in many respects the overlapping projections and immersive sensation of being in the space is purpose of the exhibition. While the overall experience is disorienting as viewers are never quite sure where the rain is coming from, it is nevertheless a stimulating thrill.
The virtual storm that fills the gallery is the creation of Los Angeles based digital artist Refik Anadol who programmed complex algorithms for the visual illusion of rain coupled with a sound-scape that is distributed across 14 speakers. Anadol has transformed the gallery into a dry rain room (an apt counterpoint to the wet Rain Room currently at LACMA). Although no actual water is present inside the gallery, it feels as if one is moving through a storm. Anadol’s ingenious design has generated a compelling illusion— a fabricated environment that feels real.
How would Warhol react to the transformation of his work and the replacement of actual water with digital rain? Though no one can know for sure, it is likely he would approve of this augmentation as he was interested in pushing boundaries in his art and embraced technical innovation. The absence of actual water in Daisy Redux: Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) situates the work in the present, an age of global warming. Although the installation feels a bit gimmicky at first, the immersive experience is sensational and meaningful as it calls attention to the lack of water in Los Angeles. Digital rain cannot sign for the real thing. It cannot water plants nor end the drought. However, replacing water with light works in this context and allows visitors to indulge in the illusion without getting their feet wet.
8687 Melrose Ave., #B230
West Hollywood, CA