‘It is pointless trying to
pin him down. “I don’t
describe myself”, he says’
Rainbow Station at Amsterdam Central uses a liquid crystal filter
to create a transient effect at dusk
to pin him down as to which discipline he owns to.
‘I don’t describe myself,’ he says.
Rainbow Station is among several other permanent
installations. A 45m x 25m spectrum at Amsterdam
Central Station, it uses a liquid crystal filter developed
by Leiden University for research on exoplanets. The
effect is briefly visible an hour after sunset.
His 2012-2015 Smart Highway and Van Gogh Cycle
Path, collaborations with Heijmans Infrastructure,
used smart coatings, energy harvesting and sensors to
create interactive roadways. Glowing Lines along the
Smart Highway are charged during the daytime and
glow at night for eight hours, while dynamic paint and
glinting stones in the cycle path in Nuenen recall Van
Gogh’s swirling Starry Night.
The 100m-long lenticular work Beyond, at Schiphol
Airport, depicts clouds in a reference to the work of
17th-century Golden Age landscape artists such as
Salomon Ruysdael, while Roosegaarde’s Windlicht
project, which linked spinning wind turbines with
green lines of laser light, evoke Kinderdijk, the Unesco
World Heritage site where 19 windmills from the
1740s pumped water to prevent floods.
While the Dutch have a nostalgic, nationalistic
connection to their windmills, they are often reluctant
to see turbines near their homes or in the landscape,
an irony that is not lost on Roosegaarde. ‘Innovation
is a natural part of the DNA of the Dutch landscape
through its dikes and creative thinking, yet we almost
seem to have forgotten this,’ he says. But there has
always been a ‘certain madness’ about the Dutch
relationship with the land, the water, the wind and the
light. Centuries ago, ‘we could all have just moved to
Germany, but we stayed and used technology.’