Desert O

Desert O
A strong iconic form that utilizes solar energy.
Desert O
Shadows from the internal structure give depth to the surface.
Desert O
Each evening displays a distinct color pattern.
Desert O
Acrylic softly diffuses the bright desert sun.
Desert O
  • In →
  • Acrylic,
  • Interactive,
  • LED,
  • Outdoor,
  • Steel

Desert O is an illuminated, translucent torus located outside of the Tucson Museum of Art in downtown Tucson, Arizona. The piece is an outdoor public sculpture constructed with frosted, heat formed acrylic panels attached to a complex steel skeleton. The sculpture is of human scale and its shape encourages interaction by inviting people to sit within the piece, children to climb through it and dogs to jump through the center.

During the day, the solar-powered sculpture gathers energy from the sun through a nearby photovoltaic panel and stores it in a battery. At night, the stored energy is used to activate brightly colored LED lights inside the sculpture. Every night of the week has a distinct pattern of colored lights that move slowly inside the artwork, thereby creating a new visual identity for the sculpture every night of the week. The frosted acrylic panels defuse the color making the entire artwork glow brightly. Out of the hundreds of metal fasteners holding the sculpture together, one is a ‘secret’ touch sensitive button that allows visitors to control the lighting. The location of the ‘secret’ button has spread virally through the community, adding another level of interactivity to the piece.

completed, 2004

6' x 1.5' x 7'

steel, acrylic, LEDs, electronics, secret button

Tucson, AZ

Commissioning Agency:
Tucson Pima Arts Council

Joe O'Connell