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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 diffuse 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.




W Alameda St, Tucson, AZ​


6' x 1.5' x 7'


steel, acrylic, LED lighting, electronics, touch sensor

Commissioning Agency: 

Tucson Pima Arts Council


Joe O'Connell

Desert O

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