Daan Roosegaarde: What are you working on now?

May 21, 2020

Over the course of three evenings in October 2019, nearly 10,000 people came to the Lenfest Center for the Arts to experience WATERLICHT, a site-specific, large-scale light installation, by the brilliant artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde. Translated from Dutch as "water light," this immersive, public art event illuminated the power and poetry of water, while raising awareness of rising global sea levels. We checked in with Roosegaarde's studio in Rotterdam. 

School of the Arts: What are you working on now?

Daan Roosegaarde: Our current world is crashing, and a new world is coming. Art is my activator. So it's great to create new prototypes with the team of designers and engineers at Studio Roosegaarde: working on energy-neutral, glowing pathways; or using light as a healer to create public places of wellbeing. I don't believe in utopia, but in protopia; step by step improving the world around us. Art also keeps you sane as a person. To create is to connect. 

School of the Arts: What are you thinking about now?

Daan Roosegaarde: In the 1970s, people were curious about the future. We went to the moon, we watched The Jetsons, Buckminster Fuller worked on magical domes. Yet today it seems we are scared of the future: robots will take over our jobs, we have viruses. But if we cannot imagine the future, we will not get there. 

First we have to imagine, and only then we can engineer, construct, and create. The future is not 5% less worse. It is something new. What? Let's find out. If I can create artworks that trigger curiosity for the future — not fear — that would make me happy. How can we all be more curious?


The new Holocaust monument LEVENSLICHT in collaboration with National Committee for 4 and 5 May remembers the 104,000 Dutch Holocaust victims with 104,000 specially developed luminescent stones, and encourages participation across 170 municipalities.
A hand holding a rock. The image on the right is in the dark and the rock is bioluminescent.
Daan Roosegaarde at The Forum, October 23, 2019. Photo by Bruce Gilbert.