Scottsdale Arts Presents
text and images courtesy of Scottsdale Public Art

Above: Now on view at SMoCA, the artwork Murmuration by Squidsoup uses a networked data system to connect hundreds of lights and audio sources, creating a responsive data swarm.

The much-anticipated Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light returns to the Scottsdale Waterfront —a stretch of the Arizona Canal between Goldwater Boulevard and Scottsdale Road, just south of Camelback Road. The  annual public art event features numerous large-scale, light-based installations, many of which will have interactive components. Free to the public from November 8-17, the 2019 show is themed The Story of Water.

The winner of the 2019 Gold Grand Pinnacle Award from the International Festival & Events Association, Canal Convergence is presented by Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation (branches of Scottsdale Arts), along with the generosity of the City of Scottsdale, Salt River Project, Billie Jo + Judd Herberger and Mural Oasis.

In addition to the artworks, the event features creative programming and entertainment for all ages. Throughout the 10-day event guests will enjoy live music and dance performances, savor delicacies from food vendors and the beer and wine garden, participate in family-friendly activities and be inspired by artist talks and creative workshops throughout the 10-day event. Nearing its goal of becoming a zero-waste event, many of the activities will focus on sustainability. 

“Attendees will be treated to a number of unique and exciting workshops delivered by local, national and international artists,” said Natalie Marsh, director of Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. “From printmaking and stenciling to technology and LED circuitry, these workshops not only engage visitors, but also involve them in the artistic practices used by the artists.”

Other activities include guided tours of the artwork, canal tours led by representatives from event partner Salt River Project, and a special Night Lights Bike Ride that visits some of the permanent public artworks around Old Town Scottsdale. Because of limited space, certain activities require an RSVP, and some will have a nominal fee to cover the cost of materials. For details, visit 

Light Up the Night, added just this year, is a celebration scheduled for November 16 at 6 p.m. Held in the event’s VIP Lounge, Light Up the Night offers attendees the chance to mix and mingle with artists, nibble on tasty appetizers and desserts and experience exclusive, one-night-only installations. Tickets to this fundraiser are $50 and include valet parking and a cocktail and champagne toast with Dr. Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts.

Here are the ten intriguing installations, complete with a brief description of each, that will be on display at Canal Convergence 2019.

CUMULUS CONNECTION by Miracle Wonderland Carnival Co.

On display November 8–17 

Cumulus Connection, or The Cloud Swings, is a series of swings suspended from glowing cloud structures, in which color and light are created as people engage with the artwork and swing through the air. If a swing is unoccupied, the cloud above it will emanate a steady white glow, which shines downward and illuminates the empty swing as an invitation to passersby. But when someone begins to swing, the transformation begins, and the white glow is replaced by vibrant colors that become more saturated as the swing moves faster. The goal is to provide nostalgic joy and connect participants to the wonders of the outdoors. 



Digital Tintamarresque combines outfits of past centuries with modern technology for an Instagram-ready photo op. Just like a retro tintamarresque—where people poke their faces through a board to complete an image on the other side—this installation invites visitors to step up and pose for photos, but the image around them generates at random. Using Izobrulo’s Polylight technology and LEDs, Digital Tintamarresque a colorful LED design at random representing customary dress from three different historical periods. 

HEARTHUG by Izobrulo Polylight


This hug-encouraging installation utilizes artificial intelligence to sense hugs. If one person stands beneath the light-based artwork, only half of HeartHug shines, but if two or more people hug below the installation, the entire heart illuminates. The artists developed an algorithm to detect human hugs for this interactive design. It is designed to question societal norms about privacy and physical boundaries while transforming a public space into a place of unity and love. During a previous, two-day installation, about 3,000 people hugged under HeartHug

LIGHT ORCHESTRA by Atomic3 and Ottomata in collaboration with Jéan-Sebastien Côté


Light Orchestra is an interactive light and sound installation that has visitors become conductors, moving their arms to direct an entire symphony. From a podium, they will direct an orchestra of motorized projectors, creating beams of light that sweep across the sky, responding to the maestro’s movements and producing unique musical sequences. This luminous and musical ballet adapts and evolves, according to the passion and energy of the budding conductor. With increased movement, the music becomes more energetic and beams of light perform a lively dance above the canal.

Artistic direction by ATOMIC3—Félix Dagenais and Louis-Xavier Gagnon-Lebrun, Interactivity design by Ottomata—Hugo Laliberté + Jonathan Jeanson, Sound Design by Jean-Sebastien Côté and Lighting Design and Production by ATOMIC3. 

PERMUTATE by Nicole A. Banowetz


Giant, glowing strands of algae emerge from the canal as this surreal, alien-like growth stretches out its tendrils toward viewers on the Waterfront. As humans we have infinite interactions with our natural environment every day. Often, we are unaware of how they create ripples in the world around us. Permutate encourages the viewer to have a collaborative interaction with the environment by rewarding thoughtful interaction with the installation. 

STANDING WAVE by Squidsoup


Standing Wave represents the power, mass and presence of water—its capacity to bring birth and renewal. It is formed by approximately 600 orbs of light and sound, connected via Wi-Fi to create an immersive audio-visual experience that simulates a wave over the controlled urban waters of the Arizona Canal. Through motion sensors and microcomputers, the orbs act in choreographed harmony, responding to their environment to create enticing sanctuaries of light and sound while also referencing the standing waveforms in canyons and canals. As part of the studio’s Wave series, Squidsoup is presenting this installation, following a variation of Desert Wave, which appeared at Burning Man in August, 2019.

SU:DAGI HAICU A:GA by The Continuum


Su:Dagi Haicu A:ga translates to Water’s Story in the O’odham language, indigenous to the Sonoran Desert. It’s a two-part installation featuring a timeline mural by Dwayne Manuel and Thomas Breeze Marcus and hand-etched seashell artwork by Jacob Butler—all O’odham artists. The acrylic murals tell the story of water as it pertained to the Ancestral O’odham, the indigenous people who lived along the Gila and Salt rivers from about 300 to 1500 BCE. Featuring four mural panels, the timeline is meant to be read from right to left and features details that pay homage to the landscape of southern Arizona, including Camelback Mountain and the formations at Papago Park. The seashells came from a traditional O’odham site near Baja, Mexico, and Butler uses traditional acid-etch methods that have been passed down for centuries. 

SWARM by ToyStudio


Swarm mimics the flocking behavior found in schools of fish and flights of birds through the movement of light. Stretching across the Arizona Canal, a series of programmable LED tubes illuminate at night, dancing and flickering as they express this natural swarming behavior. The tubes are suspended over the canal—positioned and angled as if they formed the flock or swarm themselves. During the day, the swarming behavior is expressed by opaque tubes. At night, the artwork truly comes alive as the illuminated Swarm reflects in the water. 

WATER SERPENT by Walter Productions


Water Serpent is a 200-foot-long, floating sculpture that shoots out fire along its metallic spine and spits sparks from its mouth. Like Floatus—Walter Productions’ installation from last year’s Canal Convergence—Water Serpent will produce nightly fire shows choreographed to music. A contrast of fire and water will play out as the sculpture shoots flames into the sky, reflecting not only its metallic surface but also on the water of the Arizona Canal.



Inspired by retro Lite-Brite toys, Waterlight Graffiti is an electrical canvas, where water becomes the medium to draw or write ephemeral messages of light. Visitors use paintbrushes, spray bottles or even dampened fingers to add moisture to a wall of 32,000 LEDs, which are illuminated when they come in contact with water. When applied to the frame of any individual LED, water creates an electric bridge, conducting the electricity required to light the embedded LED. The brightness varies by how much water is applied. Waterlight Graffiti is more than 5 feet tall and 26 feet wide, allowing ample space for numerous artists to create their own designs.

For a detailed schedule of tours, talks, workshops and performances, please visit


Water + Art + Light

November 8 – 17

Scottsdale Waterfront

7025 E. Via Soleri Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251