Today, half of all habitable land on the planet is used for agriculture. Most of the time, we hardly notice these farmlands, even as they spread far and wide to feed us. Daan Roosegaarde’s latest artwork GROW seeks to change this, by offering a dazzling homage to the beauty and importance of agriculture. 

Revealed earlier this week, the installation consists of thousands of ‘dancing lights’ which shine rhythmically across 20,000m2 of Dutch farmland. The light is poetic, but it is also practical — inspired by cutting-edge scientific research which shows that blue, red, and ultraviolet light can enhance plant growth and resilience. The hope is that these “light recipes” could help crops grow more sustainably, and reduce the use of pesticides by up to 50%. If the technology proves effective and energy-efficient, it could help us envision a smarter, greener way to farm in the future. It also highlights the role of design and innovation in food production, one of the most land-intensive and polluting industries in the world today.

For Roosegaarde, GROW is mainly about two things: showing how art and science can be used for the good of nature, and giving people hope. “It is the dreamscape which shows the beauty of light and sustainability,” he states. “Not as a utopia but as a protopia, improving step by step.” Studio Roosegaarde has also published a short film to accompany the launch of the project, which can now be viewed here.

GROW was commissioned by Rabobank as part of their part of the artist-in-residence program. Roosegaarde and his team of designers and experts developed GROW over two years, informed by knowledge sessions at Studio Roosegaarde, Wageningen University & Research, Springtij Forum, and the World Economic Forum in Davos. The ambition is to take the concept to 40 different countries, with each illuminated installation featuring a local or national crop grown with its own unique light recipe.

Images: Ruben Hamelink and Daan Roosegaarde.