Second Site Home

2 0 1 3
The year of the snake.


The Rain Gatherers
Second Site collective at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
578 Carrall Street, Vancouver, BC


RAIN Lab + Community Choir.

The RAIN Lab invites members of the community to drop by, meet the artists, and work with the ideas and technologies that will be used in the art installations. Some parts of the artworks will be developed in this collaborative environment.

Diana Burgoyne, Peter Courtemanche, Robin Ripley, and Matt Smith will be on-site at various times from March 9 - 14. They will be installing work and doing mini-workshops with rain collection, "rain power", rain sensors, and sound.

  • The artists will be on site March 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14 for two "drop in" sessions each day:
    10:30am - noon and 1:30pm - 3pm

Lori Weidenhammer will be hosting community choir sessions for the Starling Cloud Choir. Come and join in an improvisational choir creating the sounds of bird calls and the rain fall.

  • Saturday March 9th from 2pm - 3:30pm
  • Sunday March 10th from 2pm - 3:30pm
  • Don Chow will join Lori for a "recording and remixing" session Tuesday March 12th
    from 1:30pm - 3pm

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is an interesting location for working with rain. The garden is surrounded by a covered walkway that allows visitors to stay dry. The roof of this walkway is made up of many "drip-tiles" that collect and funnel rain water down to the edges of the roof, where it drips and pours out through funnels into the gardens and waterways below. As a result, the rain creates an unique sense of poetry and place within the garden.


Opening and Performance on March 16th.

On Saturday, March 16th the completed installations will be revealed at 2 pm. At 3pm the community choir will perform the Starling Cloud Choir, and following that Don Chow will do a performance using remixed recordings of the choir and other "bird + rain" inspired soundtracks.


Tour + Artist Talk + Ideas Session on March 23rd.

On Saturday, March 23rd at 1:30pm, "Group of X" will host an artist talk and tour of the exhibition with artists Diana Burgoyne, Peter Courtemanche, Robin Ripley, and Matt Smith.

The plan with the Tour + Talk + Ideas Session is to show off the four installation artworks, talk about our inspiration for using rain water, and then open up the discussion. We are interested in rain collection, rain "switches" or sensors, and the idea of collecting energy from individual rain drops. It is interesting to explore the relationship between artworks, electronics, and the often chaotic outdoor enviroment. There is a relationship that develops between the artwork and its environment that is quite different from the relationship between people and the artwork.

Vancouver is often called the city of rain. It is built in a rainforest. The trees are gone but the weather system remains. In 2011, Second Site created a variety of projects involving solar power. We did this during a summer when there was very little sun and this led to the idea that it would be more useful to work with the patterns of the rain.

"Group of X" is a group of Vancouver computer artists and thinkers. Organized by Jim Andrews, the group meets for monthly artist talks and discussions. The group considers the literary, the technological, and the artistic and cultural explorations of computing.


Artists and Artworks in the Show.

The installation artworks in the show will include: "The Acoustics of Rain" by Diana Burgoyne, "Drop = Blip = Clatter (Rain Stick)" by Peter Courtemanche, "Possible Showers" by Robin Ripley, and "DroPlayer" by Matt Smith. Lori Weidenhammer will create "The Starling Cloud Choir" with improvisational sound work by Don Chow.


Diana Burgoyne   The Acoustics of Rain

Diana Burgoyne has created two works that explore the acoustic space created by rain. Both pieces use upside down stainless steel pots that are suspended on bamboo stands. These pots act as loud speakers. In one piece, rain drops that fall on the lids of the pots are amplified and played back on the "cooking-pot speakers." The second piece is powered by the sun and plays back recordings of rain when the sun is shining. The piece re-positions the sounds of rain, pulling them from one time and place into another, thus causing the listener to stop and think about both the sounds and process of rain.



Peter Courtemanche   Drop = Blip = Clatter (Rain Stick)

In order to break the paradigm of using massive energy systems to power civilization, we can think outside of the box and imagine ways of integrating small-scale alternative energy sources into our daily lives. What would it be like to surround ourselves with low-powered gadgets such as small lamps, transistor radios, and even laptops that were powered by local sources of energy - the power of the sun or even the power of a single rain drop.

Drop = Blip = Clatter consists of four bamboo tubes, each approximately four feet long. Inside each hollow chamber is an energy harvesting device that collects energy from the sun and the rain. When enough energy has been collected by the harvester, the device will start to make noises with each rain drop that falls on its rain collector.



Robin Ripley   Possible Showers

The presence of rain defines Vancouver, yet we are often unaware of its qualities and patterns. Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden, designed to heighten our awareness of natures' rhythms provides a suitable backdrop for investigating our water cycle.

Robin Ripley draws upon the gardens' philosophy of harmony through the balance of opposites. She has installed a series of three rain/condensation traps, which illustrate both metaphoric and quantitative aspects of gathering rain. One rain trap is an artificial "cloud" suspended in a tree. It collects rain and condensation and funnels the moisture downwards into a collection jar. The other rain traps are conventional scientific rain gauges - one digital and one analog. The artist will add to an ongoing visual diary in the form of a large calendar that will contain all of the information gathered throughout the exhibition.

Working with collected rainwater and other mediums, Rain Lab participants will have the opportunity to reconsider the qualities of precipitation while creating their own rainwork.



Matt Smith   DroPlayer

DroPlayer takes photographs of patterns of rain and condensation that form on a conical collection surface. The photographs are then uploaded via a cell-phone to a computer that interprets the rain patterns and creates music. The tempo and tone of the music is determined by the amount of rain in the image and the rate at which the rain patterns change from one image to the next. This generates wildly diverse compositions, depending on the current conditions. The soundtrack produced by the piece can be heard inside the Hall of One Hundred Rivers.


Lori Weidenhammer   The Starling Cloud Choir

This is a family-friendly workshop and performance where you will use your voice to make sound poetry in a group in a piece inspired by rain and birdsong. We'll be working with bird behaviour and the mnemonics and phonetics of local bird song. We'll also be exploring the sound of the rain using our voices and I will ask you to improvise around some of my own poetry. This is your opportunity to be in a performance art choir! Bring your family and friends! DJ and sound artist Don Chow will work with recordings made during the workshops to produce a sound piece for the opening event on March 16th.



P h o t o  and audio  S c r o l l


The Starling Cloud Choir performs at the opening, March 16.


Diana Burgoyne, The Acoustics of Rain.


Diana Burgoyne, The Acoustics of Rain.


The sound of the pots in the rain.


Diana Burgoyne, The Acoustics of Rain, the solar powered version.


Diana Burgoyne building The Acoustics of Rain.


Diana Burgoyne at the artist talk March 23.


Diana Burgoyne at the artist talk March 23.


Diana Burgoyne - Rain Drawing Workshop on Galiano Island.


Don Chow performs at the opening, March 16.


Don Chow at the RAIN Lab, March 12.


Jim Andrews introduces the artist talk, March 23.


Matt Smith, DroPlayer - the rain camera.


Matt Smith hiding his gear in the sound cabinet.


Matt Smith at the artist talk, March 23.


At the opening, March 16.


Peter Courtemanche, Rain Stick - testing out the circuit during the RAIN Lab.


Peter Courtemanche, Rain Stick.


Peter Courtemanche, Rain Stick.


Peter Courtemanche, Rain Stick - rain drop sensor and solar cell.


Peter Courtemanche, Rain Stick - installed overlooking the pond.


The sound of the Rain Sticks.


Peter Courtemanche at the artist talk, March 23.


Peter Courtemanche at the artist talk, March 23.


Peter Courtemanche, Rain Stick.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - the rain collecting cloud.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - the rain collecting cloud.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - rain collecting devices.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - rain diary.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - rain diary.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - the rain collecting funnel.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers.


Robin Ripley installing the cloud.


Robin Ripley at the RAIN Lab.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - rain meter.


Robin Ripley, Possible Showers - sewing the cloud into the tree.


Robin Ripley at the artist talk, March 23.


Robin Ripley at the artist talk, March 23.


Robin Ripley at the artist talk, March 23.


Lori Weidenhammer doing a Starling Cloud Choir school workshop.


Lori Weidenhammer getting ready to rehearse.


Outdoor noise makers.


(Photos by Diana Burgoyne, Peter Courtemanche, Don Chow, Robin Ripley, and Matt Smith)