Electric Desert

2+

Client: Desert Botanical Garden

Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2018

Project Team

Director

Ricardo Rivera

Klip Collective

Client

Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

Industry Resource

DWP Live

Overview

Electric Desert is a nighttime exhibit with seven discreet installations of light, projection, and original music at Desert Botanical Garden. Klip transformed cacti, succulents, and rock formations into a living nocturnal canvas. Inspired by the environment and cycles of water, the garden forms transcend the desert into a colorful, seemingly underwater experience. Lighting plays a large role in this exhibit with thousands of pixel-mapped LEDs and an eight-foot tall infinity mirror light sculpture. The scale of the exhibit is massive, with just two of the features covering approximately nine acres of the garden with projection and lighting.

Goals

Klip was commissioned to integrate site-specific lighting, projection and music into the Desert Botanical Garden landscape for an immersive, transformative experience. The surreal sensory experiences unfold in a complex and playful atmosphere with a strong focus on interaction and participation by a captivated audience. Through the creation of an immersive visual and sonic landscape that draws inspiration from and adds dimension to a space, audiences can experience the metamorphosis of a familiar place into a world of imagination and play.As a walking journey, the exhibits flow from the garden entrance through the multiple galleries to provide a complete experience. Careful consideration was given to how visitors would move through the space, making sure way-finding cues and light leaks guide people forward and through the exhibits. Equipment is strategically placed so that the artwork could breathe without the distractions of obtrusive hardware and technology. The audio experience required considerable design intention. With little space between exhibits, the music and sound design can be heard from multiple areas. To avoid a jarring auditory experience, each musical track was produced in the same harmonious key and tempo to allow for audible overlap of music within the grounds.

Process

The first walk-through of the space is the most important in translating the canvas and getting inspiration from what is already there. The arrangement of plant forms and overall landscape of the garden elicit an artistic response and dictate much of the creative approach. A collaborative language emerges and informs the selection of mediums, colors, sounds, and movements for each piece. Lead by the creative vision for each installation, a team of designers work collaboratively on the technical foundation that drives the experience. Information provides a roadmap through design with site plans, historical research, and care for the plant galleries. The intricate projection mapping of hundreds of cacti required collection of 3D data to recreate the plant beds in digital form to precisely orchestrate the movement of the visuals to the stems of the auditory content. Cacti Synesthesia is a synched dance of projection-mapped visuals on various forms, each interpreted as an instrument or movement in the music.
A collaborative team of animators, designers, producers, projectionists, electricians, fabricators, programmers, horticulturists, musicians, and composers were integral to the success of Electric Desert as a unified, mystical exhibit most visitors had never experienced before.

Additional Information

Klip Collective self-produced and made publicly available the soundtrack to Electric Desert to carry on the spirit of the exhibit. As a temporal exhibit, that by its site-specific nature will never be experienced again, the album allows visitors to engage their memories and relive this dreamlike experience through sound.