Immersive art illuminates rising sea levels


To launch Year of Water, Columbia University decided to bring the sensation of waves from October 22 to 24 to the plaza of the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaard created "Waterlicht," a site-specific, large-scale installation. The work features undulating, softly flowing light that fills the space like water.

This immersive public art event sheds light on rising water levels caused by climate change. With projections using LED lights and special lenses, “Waterlicht” shows us how high the water could go if we don’t act. Through the art, viewers "experience the vulnerability and power of living with water," said Roosegaard.

“I think we all know the numbers,” said Roosegaard. “But numbers won’t change us. Imagination will.”

Throughout the next two semesters with the Year of Water, Columbia is focusing on this precious resource, with all parts of the University coming together to explore its full complexity, from the artistic to the scientific and social. Roosegaard’s work embodies this complexity—for him, “Waterlicht” is about nature, technology, people, and landscape trying to find a new harmony and sense of balance.

Carol Becker, Dean of Columbia’s School of the Arts, sees the installation as a way of welcoming everyone in New York to Columbia’s exploration of water. With “Waterlicht,” she said, “We can say to everyone, come and participate…It’s our open house to the Year of Water.” Learn more.


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