Daan Roosegaarde explores “light recipes” to Grow plants more sustainably

Red and blue ultraviolet lights “grow” across a vast Dutch farmland forming this installation by Studio Roosegaarde, highlighting the beauty and importance of agriculture.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Jan 19, 2021

Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde reveals his latest project, Grow, a 20,000 sqm light installation that highlights the “beauty and importance” of agriculture and farming. Red and blue ultraviolet lights aided by four solar battery powered systems dance across a vast leek farmland in The Netherlands, appearing as a visual, luminous dreamscape. The artwork consists of design based “light recipes” inspired by photobiology light science technologies that can enhance plant growth and reduce pesticide use by 50 per cent.

Red and blue ultraviolet lights dance across a 20,000 sqm Dutch farmland | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
Red and blue ultraviolet lights dance across a 20,000 sqm Dutch farmland Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

“Most of the time we hardly notice the huge areas of the Earth which are literally feeding us. Grow highlights the importance of innovation in the agriculture system: How can cutting-edge light design help plants to grow more sustainably? How can we make the farmer the hero?” Roosegaarde poses a pertinent enquiry.

Grow, a light installation by Daan Roosegaarde | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
Grow, a light installation by Daan Roosegaarde Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

A newly released film by Studio Roosegaarde shows this cultural installation in action. Grow sheds light on how to cultivate agricultural fields in a more sustainable manner, and also reveals itself as a poetic, “hopeful light to people”.

Grow aims to probe into sustainable practices in agriculture | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
Grow aims to probe into sustainable practices in agriculture Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

Grow gives a new meaning to the word ‘agri-culture’ by reframing the landscape as a living cultural artwork,” shares the Rotterdam-based studio.

Grow also reveals itself as a hopeful and poetic luminous spectacle | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
Grow also reveals itself as a hopeful and poetic luminous spectacle Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

Grow becomes a large-scale exploration of light technology earlier tested in greenhouses, based on research that suggests that certain combinations of light and colour help with plant growth, apart from making them more resilient toward infections and pests. High density LED lights are placed across the farm which then move rhythmically, creating trippy, wavy patterns. 

  • The field illuminated at night | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    The field illuminated at night Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde
  • The farm during the day | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
    The farm during the day Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

Roosegaarde plans to take Grow to 40 different countries, with each illuminated installation featuring a local or national crop grown with its own unique light recipe. These he hopes will reiterate the harmful effects of pesticides, and bring to light a better, greener way to farm, and improve the urban environment, similar to his earlier Smog Free project. “Grow is the dreamscape which shows the beauty of light and sustainability. Not as a utopia but as a protopia, improving step by step,” states Roosegaarde.

The lights enhance the growth of crops and makes them more resilient | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
The lights enhance the growth of crops and makes them more resilient Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

Sitting at the crossroads of science, design and arts, Grow is part of the artist-in-residence programme of the Rabobank, the first in a series of dreamscapes by Studio Roosegaarde. Roosegaarde and his team worked on Grow for over two years, aided and informed by experts and knowledge sessions at Studio Roosegaarde, Wageningen University & Research, Springtij Forum, and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Grow combines art, science and design | Grow by Daan Roosegaarde | STIRworld
Grow combines art, science and design Image: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde

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