Amid concerns about flooding during the coming storm and a dispute over permitting, a virtual art exhibit installed as part of the multi-site Desert X exhibition was moved out of a Palm Springs wash area, organizers said Wednesday.
The “Augmented Reality” exhibit was initially located in the wash area at North Indian Canyon Road. Officials with the Coachella Valley Water District, which controls the land, warned that the site could become treacherous and endanger visitors in the event of rain, since it is located in a floodplain.
The district’s Katie Evans said a CVWD employee spotted the exhibit location Tuesday.
“We support Desert X and their mission,” Evans said. “We believe what they do has tremendous value to our community, however, it is imperative that they operate safely. Placing an exhibit in a floodplain and encouraging people to stop there is extremely dangerous and we cannot allow it.”
With the district warning of possible flooding dangers, organizers of Desert X — an outdoor exhibit with 19 installations throughout the Coachella Valley — opted to relocate the installation.
Organizers noted that the “Augmented Reality” exhibit is a virtual installation which — similar to the Pokemon Go application — visualizes virtual illustrations on smartphones and does not involve any physical objects on display.
The exhibit was moved to an Amtrak parking lot at North Indian Canyon Drive and Palm Springs Station Road, according to Desert X Executive Director Jenny Gill. Desert X officials were still working to move signs for the exhibit and update the Desert X mobile application and website, Gill said.
The move “happened in the last 24 hours and we are moving as fast as we can,” Gill said.
Evans said the water district had denied Desert X’s request for a permit to put the exhibit in the wash area “because it is unsafe.” Gill disputed that claim, insisting, “technically, the permit was never denied.”
Gill said Desert X had been working with the district for several weeks, and “in good faith we have done everything we could to follow the recommendations of the CVWD.”
Desert X exhibits will be on display through April 21.
“Revolutions” is an augmented reality experience by Nancy Baker Cahill at Desert X 2019. (Photo: Lance Gerber/Courtesy the artist and Desert X)