Herba Fugax

Interactive Desert Art project using technology to bring perceived value to a seemingly meaningless place

This project was done as part of the Calzona Collective and was coupled with a fictitious biological report. Piece used Arduino, LEDs, acrylic rods, radar sensors, and solar charging circuits to create a glowing greed rod which would suddenly turn off when approached.

The goal of this project was to reconsider Land Art, removing the colonial nature that can't be ignored in the original movement, and attempting to instill a sense of attachment to the landscape and wonder at the beautiful environment the viewer is situated in. Like much of my work, I try to place the viewer inside of the artwork and force them to walk around - to move - in order to experience the work.

The report can be found here


Calzona is a small desert area on the border of California and Arizona. The nearest town is called Parker Arizona as is about a 20-30 minute drive away. Calzona itself consists of sand, rock, some chaparral, the occasional turkey vulture , and some stinging insects.

A group of around 8 of us decided to host a show out here in the middle of the desert.

These are interactive lights that glow a brilliant green in the distance and are very striking and strange when seen in the middle of the desert. But once within a couple meters, the lights wink out, and it becomes very difficult to find them in the dark. After a few minutes, the triggered light slowly gets brighter and brighter until it is back at its original brightness


Several of these little green lights were placed in the space of around 2 square miles. During the day, they are almost completely invisible due to the bright desert sun. At night, the appear as little green dots in the distance.

They are very difficult to find during the day. There are two lights in the picture to the right.

2 of these lights were placed near the train tracks. Because they use radar sensors, any moving conductive material (like a train or an animal) can be detected, causing the lights to turn off. Trains rarely pass by, but when they do, the conductor should be able to see the small green lights suddenly turn off as the train passes by.

The Design

  • Arduino

  • LED glued to the bottom of a plexiglass rod, causing the light to emit from the rod

  • Radar sensor detecting movement within 3 meters (this varied a great deal depending on how much dirt I covered the container with)

  • Solar Panel

  • Charging Circuit

  • 2x 3.7V batteries (in parallel for charging, series for discharging using mosfet)