Interactive Cacti

Agave made of pool noodles that lights up in reaction to touch

We collaborated with local artists and engineers to make an interactive cactus grove for the 2012 Festival of Creativity at the Mesa Arts Center. This cactus is an agave that reacts to touch, lighting up in different patterns when its fronds (made of pool noodles) are handled. One of the themes of the display was rethinking the way we interact with the cacti around us. Unlike real cacti, these installations welcome tactile attention, and reward the explorer with a beautiful light show under their control.


Tim programming a new pattern to the sculpture

The lighting programs were programmable and we changed them throughout the festival and beyond. You can see (and play with) this sculpture at its temporary home at HeatSync Labs in Mesa, AZ.

We custom designed and built the sensors, circuit boards, and lighting for this sculpture to withstand the Arizona heat and tackling by children. Contact us if you want to visit this sculpture or if you would like something similar for your location or event.


Arizona ArtBeat broadcast a special on PBS about the Mesa Arts Center’s Festival of Creativity on 5/24/12. The video is available here and our cactus grove installation is highlighted at about 3:30 in. It shows some behind the scenes footage of the construction process of this and some of the other cacti.