Photosynthesis at the Conservatory of Flowers - CODAworx

Photosynthesis at the Conservatory of Flowers

Submitted by Obscura Digital

Client: SF Conservatory of Flowers

Location: San Francisco, CA, United States

Completion date: 2017

Project Team

Public Art Agent

Ben Davis



Matthew Stephens

SF Conservatory of Flowers


Phil Ginsberg

SF Department of Recreation & Parks


Ann Brilz

Obscura Digital


The Photosynthesis project — a collaboration between Obscura, Illuminate (instigators of the Bay Lights), and San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers — transforms the Conservatory into an artistic canvas by night. This analog Gobo projection system bathes the building in stunning imagery of the flowers and butterflies housed inside, teasing out what hides beneath its whitewashed curtain, catching the eye of passers-by, sparking curiosity and drawing them in through captivating beauty. The project has a summer theme “Photosynthesis: Summer of Love” and a winter theme “Photosynthesis: Love for All Seasons”.


Our goal was to use the canvas of the Conservatory to activate the otherwise dormant building at night, creating an attractive draw for passers-by, and enticing visitors to enjoy its offerings by day by highlighting the riches housed within this greenhouse, from the flora to the butterfly collection.


San Francisco's Department of Recreation and Parks approached arts instigator Illuminate to activate the Conservatory. Illuminate looked to Obscura to design and execute the program. We maintained a great collaborative working relationship with all parties.

Additional Information

This project represents one of the most advanced uses of gobo projection technology ever attempted, including applying digital architectural mapping techniques and laser etching on lenses of layered dichroic glass.