Drawing Rain – An Immersive Installation Performance Piece

Read Drawing Rain Handout PDF here

Drawing Rain is an installation performance piece, a physical expansion of how I feel when I draw.

I have always loved nature. A few months back, I stumbled upon some nature sounds, and loved the idea of being in an environment that is inspired by those sounds. The idea of physically and aurally drawing rain came from drawing to sounds and experimenting with the Wacom pad.

The act of drawing is very personal and private; it is an inner dialog between my hands, eyes and mind. I see the activity as a sanctuary, a place to get away from the daily grind.

In response to the notion of intimacy and privacy, a wall of moving rain divides the space between the audience and myself. My silhouette is seen from time to time when there is thunder with warm lights flickering on & off. The soundscape is on the audience side.

The environment is completely dark. The ambience is calm, tranquil and at times turbulent with thunder and warm lighting juxtaposing the cool & dark.


Drawing Rain, Saturday 5/18/2013 performance:

Drawing Rain 5/18 Performance by Sonia Li from Sonia Li on Vimeo.


Excerpt video of 5/31/2013 collaborative performance with Pianist, Katya Mihailova:


Drawing Rain, Monday, 4/22/2013 performance:

Drawing Rain Performance by Sonia Li from Sonia Li on Vimeo.


Below is a Processing sketch I did as an experiment, thinking about rain in a pure computer graphics context:

NOCWeek3Rain from Sonia Li on Vimeo.


The idea of physically drawing rain came from drawing to sounds and experimenting with the Wacom pad. Below are two examples:

WhaleDrawing from Sonia Li on Vimeo.

Drawing to Grizzly Bear from Sonia Li on Vimeo.


Here is a documentation that I captured on the computer of myself using the Drawing Rain program. The Wacom pen pressure is mapped to the rain sound. The volume is a bit low in the beginning, best to use headphones:

Drawing Rain from Sonia Li on Vimeo.


The live drawing is projected onto a loose weave sculptural fabric, dividing myself and the audience while I am performing. The imagery is seen clearly by the audience, as well as a silhouette of myself. I played around with directional speakers to create a more intimate ambience for the audience. The environment is completely dark. Below are sketches and two photographic imageries that represent the ambience:

Drawing Rain Installation Set Up






Inspiration Imagery

Inspiration Imagery


Equipment list:

2 – Arms (one for flat panel speakers, the other for projector)
4 – Yamaha Speakers
1 – Directional Holosonic Speaker Panel
4 – 30 ft. 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch cables (two ring)
2 – 30 ft RCA to RCA cables
6 – extension cords
1 – Motu mk3 sound card
1 – 400 to 400 firewire
1 – In Focus IN1501 model projector
1 – extended 30 ft. VGA cord from projector to computer
1 – dongle
1 – stand
various – Rosebrand black velour curtains, enough to completely black out the space given.


Github repository here. 

Running on Processing, Max/MSP and Wacom pad.

Many thanks to my PARENTS, Judith Bernstein, John Reynolds, Brian Robles, Clinton Love, Glen Barnard, Dan Shiffman, Shantell Martin, Luke DuBois, Tony Lim, Mimi Yin, Craig Protzel, Antonius Oktaviano Wiriadjaja, Merche Blasco, Lia Martinez, Genevieve Hoffman, Katya Mihailova, Lulu Almana, Sara Al-Bassam, Michael Allison, Aaron Sherwood, Erin Smith, Maria Paula Saba, Guilherme Pena Costa, David Rios, Phan Visutyothapibal, Johanne Diedrick, Todd Bryant, Andrew Sigler, Luisa Pereira, Monica Bate, Manuela Donoso Lamas, Kojo Opuni, ProTablet library/Andres Colubri, Patricia Zablah, Mary Fê, Andrew Cerrito and John Capogna.

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