• Photo: Arjen van Eijck

  • Photo: Ronald Smits

  • Photo courtesy of DRIFT

  • Photo: Arjen van Eijck

Tree of Ténéré

An Interactive Light Sculpture

The Tree of Ténéré represents the strongest symbol of life flourishing in the most difficult circumstances. This dynamic artwork is sculpted according to the natural growth of the tree in its surroundings. 


Materials: steel, aluminium, fibers tube, hand-sculpted polyester, paint, plastics, LEDs and embedded electronics.



An ancient story tells us that the isolated Tree of Ténéré, only to be found in the Sahara desert, had a ceremonial function to bring people together for ritual and rest. DRIFT explores new ways of connecting people to each other and earth, by using innovative technology. As seen more often in their work, the artists shed light on the tension between the real and the virtual world. 

Advanced software allows us to simulate the entire natural growth of a tree, considering all environmental factors, such as the incidence of light, buildings and gravity. Rather natural intelligence, than artificial intelligence makes it possible to produce the structure of a tree in a digital setting. Thus, the art installation at the physical location will be a close representation of a potential reality. The speed, intensity and colour of the light react to the public and the surrounding. Once again, there will be a place where people come together to pursue emotional resonance.

The Tree of Ténéré is a partnership between Zachary Smith, Mark C. Slee and DRIFT. It debuted at BURNING MAN 2017


Photo courtesy of DRIFT
Photo: Arjen van Eijck
Photo courtesy of DRIFT

Video courtesy of DRIFT