This story was originally published in Architectural Lighting.
The Tree of Ténéré, a large-scale artwork conceived of by artist Zachary Smith that involved the participation of a multidisciplinary team of artists and designers from New York, San Francisco, and Amsterdam, debuted at Burning Man 2017 (Aug. 27 to Sept. 4 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada). The piece, named after a lone African acacia tree that grew despite being in the middle of the Sahara desert, is a symbol of humanity’s collective spirit.
For the Burning Man installation, the team embedded more than 100,000 LEDs in a canopy of 25,000 leaves to create “a canvas of light.” Production and mapping was done by Alexander Green, artist and CEO of Symmetry Labs. The open-source Animation software was developed by artist Mark Slee, and co-creator Patrick Deegan oversaw the sensors and technical coordination issues.
All this led to the production of visual content for the tree—more than 30 interactive light shows, one of which was an adapted version of Studio Drift’s 2007 Flylight piece, which mimics the movement of a flock of birds. Studio Drift was invited to lend its interactive piece to the Tree of Ténéré's overall digital program, and specifically chose its Flylight piece as a way of celebrating the studio's 10th anniversary. •
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