Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

DESERT PULSE is an ambitious artwork commissioned by Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. The large-scale, long-term exhibition will open in October 2025 with digital installations nestled amongst the cacti-filled garden and inside two newly built immersive gallery spaces. Our artwork will be the latest in a list of major biannual shows (Chihuly: 2021, Botero: 2023, Desert Pulse: 2025).

We are creating a portrait of a place over time, observing a year in the life of this landscape in the heart of the Sonoran Desert.

We invite you to see and feel this desert city in a way that’s impossible with traditional cameras or with your naked eye, shining new light on the stoic, beautifully slow life of cacti. Desert Pulse reveals their rhythmic growth, heliotropic twists and bursts of colourful exuberance.

ScanLAB Projects | Desert Pulse

The Sonoran desert is a vast and exciting new environment for both our UK studio and our timelapse cinematic technique. The flora is unique, sculptural and intricate. 150-year-old Saguaro cacti tower over our scanners, desert blooms emerge from inhospitable soils, agaves shoot floral masts metres into the air and cactus flowers emerge from expanding nests of spines.

ScanLAB Projects | Desert Pulse

Phoenix is at the forefront of many human and environmental dilemmas. Urban development around lush green golf courses creeps further into pristine desert landscapes. Vehicles rule in a city teaming with life, ingenuity, burgeoning semiconductor wealth and fields of impenetrable asphalt. A battle for water is underway: aquifers are sucked dry and watercourses controlled by a hundred years of monumental dam building following in the footsteps of the ancient, sophisticated Hohokam canal system. Summer in America’s hottest city is getting hotter, longer, and deadlier than ever before, especially for the city's poorest residents.

ScanLAB Projects | Desert Pulse

We use our tools and our craft to bear witness, and invite you to join us. Humanity's beautiful ingenuity and devastating impact is under the spotlight. Breathtaking desert life will surprise and delight us. We look forward to you seeing the work; we hope you will pause, think, and hope.

ScanLAB Projects | Desert Pulse

We’ve been working for over eighteen months with a team of incredible scientists, curators, journalists and local experts to learn about this part of the world and craft this ambitious project.

In October 2023, five local photographers joined the team, extending their practice to include 3D scanning. They are currently exploring the desert every day for an epic, year-long series of scans that will form the backbone of our time lapse artwork. We also have robots in climate-controlled chambers meticulously navigating around flowering cacti, observing the unfolding of every delicate petal and spine.

We are honoured to be working with this wonderful team and learning from their deep knowledge of the Sonoran Desert: the place, the flora, and the people.

Something really special is emerging.

We can’t wait to open the latest and most ambitious of Desert Botanical Garden's major biannual shows in fall 2025.

Keep an eye on our Instagram and the Garden's for behind the scenes updates.

ScanLAB Projects Team, 8th March 2024

Photo credits ScanLAB Projects and Rick White-Pickett

ScanLAB Projects | Desert Pulse