Luminous Growth - CODAworx

Luminous Growth

Submitted by Liz Hickok

Client: Palo Alto Public Art

Location: Palo Alto, CA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $6,000

Project Team

Photographer and Lead Artist

Liz Hickok

Video and Technologist

Phil Spitler


Jamie Banes


Connor Jones


Palo Alto Public Art


This interactive, large scale, 360-degree video project was a collaboration with Phil Spitler and Jamie Banes. “Luminous Growth” is a combination of a dynamic, interactive large-scale projection and a sculptural installation with custom sound design by Conner Jones.

The projection features a video of a surreal cityscape that slowly floods and grows tree-like crystals. While the scene is larger-than-life, it stemmed from a hand-built sculpture placed inside an enclosed set, with a 360-degree camera recording the crystal growth through time-lapse photography.

Viewers engage with a tablet, enabled with a custom-designed app that allows them to pan, zoom, and control what is projected on the wall.

At the Code:ART Festival in Palo Alto this fall, our video was projected on the side of the ATT building at 33ft x 50ft. We also had the original crystal-encased cityscape on display for the community to see, which added multiple layers of connection and engagement. Phil and I were present to discuss the project and the process.


We brought all of our varied but related talents together to provide a rich and inspiring experience for the residents, students, and visitors to downtown Palo Alto. We aspired to energize viewers’ minds, and light up the urban landscape through our immersive installation.
For us, as creators, the delicate and ephemeral cityscape is evocative of circulating energy, of transformation, and of growth. Such a metaphor feels fitting in a city such as Palo Alto, “with a population that more than doubles each day”, and which feels like it pulses with innovation, knowledge, and energy.


The video piece and sculpture took us 2 years from concept to completion; 8 gallons of warm water; 25 pounds of mono-ammonium phosphate crystal solution; 15 days of crystal growth; and 53,700 individual frames to capture the time-lapse video.

Additional Information

This piece has also been shown as part of the "Great Wave" exhibition at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, CA. We expanded the piece for the outdoor setting of the Code:ART Festival in Palo Alto, CA this fall, adding the sculpture for further community engagement. The festival lasted 3 evenings in October 2021 and featured 7 different new media installations by their respective artists throughout downtown Palo Alto, CA.