Petite, densely populated and pancake-flat, the Netherlands has harnessed the power of wind to pump water, produce gin and, in recent years, provide homes, trains and pretty much everything in between with a renewable source of electricity.
Now, this topographically challenged European nation's ages-old reliance on wind power is responsible for one killer outdoor laser light show.
Dubbed “Windlicht” (Windlight), this otherworldly LED installation — a spellbinding tribute to the oft-overlooked “beauty of green energy — pairs modern wind turbine blades and beams of brilliant green light dancing across the night sky.
Sponsored by Dutch telecommunications giant KPN (recently and proudly climate-neutral), the light show was conceived and choreographed by none other than Daan Roosegaarde, an endlessly innovative artist specializing in works of social- and environmental-themed “techno-poetry.” You might know Roosegaarde and his eponymous Rotterdam-headquartered studio best for jewelry-producing smog vacuums, “Starry Night”-inspired bike paths and hallucinatory interactive light installations that defy easy description.
“Windlicht creates the missing link between the Dutch and the beauty of our new landscape,” Roosegaarde says of his latest project.
As a news release explains, Roosegaarde conceived “Windlicht” as a nod to Kinderdijk, a small village near Rotterdam that’s home to a postcard-perfect collection of tourist-luring — and UNESCO-protected — windmills in South Holland erected in the mid-18th century to drain water from a nearby polder. Historic, wind-powered pumping stations, basically.
For him these windmills from 1740 are a perfect example of Dutch innovation. Reconnecting with the landscape and creating a positive image around green energy also drives him. Roosegaarde developed the artwork together with a team of designers and engineers.
As far as technology goes, Roosegaarde Studio explains that this “dynamic play between light and movement” is made possible by “special software and tracking technology” that “detect the windmill blades rotating at 280 kilometers (174 mph) per hour.”
“Windlicht,” or at least this iteration of it, is being held a good 50 miles southwest of the below-sea-level landscape that inspired Roosegaard at Windpark Anna Vosdijk Polder, a small Eneco-operated wind farm at Sint-Annaland in the island-heavy Zeeland province. One of the largest energy providers in the Netherlands, Ececo has collaborated with Studio Roosegaarde on past instillations.
So when's it happening? While a couple of performances of “Windlicht” have passed, this mesmerizing, almost jump-ropey “dance of bright lines” can again be viewed by the public, for free, on the evenings of March 18 and 19 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Spectators, who can learn more about the artwork by tuning into a special FM radio channel while the light show is in progress, are encouraged to wear sturdy footwear and warm clothes if they plan on venturing out from the confines of their cars. And for those who’d rather forgo the radio narration and provide their own soundtrack, Pink Floyd is an obvious choice given that this is, after all, a laser show. However, a certain John Williams score also does seem highly apropos.
Studio Roosegaard plans to bring"Windlicht" to additional wind farms in the Netherlands and beyond following its big Zeeland debut.