Growing Raining Tree

Growing, Raining Tree is an interactive three-year installation commissioned from ARW by the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnatti, OH, in 2003. 

Like the biological specimen, Growing, Raining Tree responds to elements in its environment and is sensitive to movement around its perimeter. As you approach the pool surrounding the Tree, its limbs slowly come to greet you. Once they reach your location, the branches pull back and begin to drip rhythmically in response to your presence. When the Tree has no visitors, it takes a willow-like resting posture.

The gallery in which Growing, Raining Tree showed provided a view of metropolitan Cincinnati and a flood of natural light. This constantly varying light provides the Tree with the unusual ability to change its moods with the weather, season, and time of day.

The attentive, rhythmic expressions of Growing, Raining Tree remind us of the fact that the inhabitants of our natural environments are not insensate, unresponsive matter, but uniquely sensitive life capable of reflecting the form and quality of our presence in the world.

Growing, Raining Tree was originally conceived as part of an existing Amorphic Robot Works touring exhibition, The Amorphic Landscape. The Amorphic Landscape is a large-scale robotic installation and performance which depictstheformation of the earth, the evolution of creatures, the rise of communication, and the eventual erosion of the environment as the Landscape’s inhabitants carve roads and structures out of their original surroundings.  In its use of air and water, the Tree would enforce and communicate the living, active nature of the environment itself. The Tree was envisioned as an expressive individual that undergoes transformation at the hands of other creatures during the hour-long performances of The Amorphic Landscape.

The Tree’s pool was initially conceived as a gestation site for small creatures that would further interact with The Amorphic Landscape. As the Tree evolved into an interactive gallery installation, the focus shifted from the larger integrative aspects of the piece, to the dialogue between the audience and the visceral life-force of the Tree itself.  In its motion, sound performance, and interaction, Growing, Raining Tree attempts to make the connection between the human observer and non-human life.

© MacMurtrie/ARW

© MacMurtrie/ARW



Amorphic Robot Works

  • Chico MacMurtrie, Artistic Director
  • Marc9, Fabrication and Software
  • Frank Hausman, Hardware and Software
  • Bruce Mulligan, Fabrication
  • Janette Wernegreen, Sculpture Technician
  • Jesus Lopez, Electrical Assistant
  • Shelly Wynecoop, Project Manager and Photographer

ARW Interns

  • Anna Isaak-Ross
  • Jarrett Shamlian
  • Hans Steiner
  • Wendy Wong


  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing
  • Festo AG
  • NorCal Controls
  • Bimba Manufacturing
  • MediaMation
  • Opcode Systems
  • Opto 22

ARW would also like to thank Lisa Buck, Tom Allison, Dave Gearding, Antwan Jones and the staff at the CAC.