Play in the rain - and don't get wet.  That’s the idea behind Dash 7 Design’s ‘Waterfall Swing’, an oversized swingset that emits a curtain of water, only to narrowly miss the swinger, in a playground game of chicken.  (As an added bonus, the swing also produces giant water letters – see another video here.)

Design team Drew Ratcliff, Mike O’Toole, Ian Charnas and Andrew Witte created the swing, one in a series of designs exploring water's role in space. The installation has since appeared at several different events around the US.

Ratcliff told us this about the Waterfall Swing’s evolution:  

“Ian, Mike and I had been exchanging ideas about making an interactive art piece possibly for Burning Man. Ian sent a link to a video shot in Japan of a water writer and I started thinking about how one could interact with water writing. I thought it would be an amazing experience to pass through a hole in a plane of water and got the idea of a swing combined with a water writer.

When Mike and I sat down to sketch out the concept, we were in a room with a 18' tall ceiling. We thought it would be even more fun if the swing was huge, so Mike designed it to be as tall as the room.

We got a late entry into the Bay Area Maker Faire and constructed the swing in only one month. Ian asked Andrew Witte to join the team and the four of us built it in stages in Brooklyn, NY, Cleveland, OH and Oakland, CA with the help of friends along the way.

The Waterfall Swing was a hit at Maker Faire and we had long lines of children and adults waiting to ride it. Adults find the large scale of the Waterfall Swing returns them to that child-like feeling of playground swingsets. 

The swing can also function as a water writer capable of printing images 270 pixels wide. We did an installation at Ingenuity Fest in Cleveland, OH where the swing printed in big letters of water the text messages sent to it by the audience.”

We’ve been seeing a lot of water installations lately – take a look at our story on the Rain Room, a light installation that re-creates the appearance (without the discomfort) of being caught in a downpour.

Photos courtesy Paul Sabota.