A Current Event

As concerns over climate change increase, cities around the world are preparing for rising water levels. One Dutch artist is helping people visualize the potential impact. Our flood-prone River City should dive right in.
Photo by Studio Roosegaarde
Sixty thousand people witnessed Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde’s "Waterlicht" light show in Amsterdam in 2015.

The Idea

In 2015, Rotterdam-based artist Daan Roosegaarde created a “virtual flood” over 4 acres in his hometown to raise awareness about climate change. Using LED lights and special lenses, he simulated slowly rolling blue waves at the height that water levels might reach (in this case, about 9 feet) if we don’t work to address the issue of global warming. The presentation, dubbed Waterlicht (water light), lasted three nights.

Since then, the light exhibition has visited more than a dozen cities, from Paris and London to Dubai, Toronto and New York. Many of the attendees wear headphones and listen to Roosegaarde speak about the dangers of rising water levels.

Sacramento, as any native can tell you, is flood prone, thanks to our placement at the confluence of two mighty rivers. (During the 19th century, the Great Flood of 1862 forced the state capital to temporarily relocate to San Francisco, and dozens of homes were lifted off their foundations and carried away.) But now, according to the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, we are also the American city most at risk of a massive flood—yes, above New Orleans.

March 22 marks World Water Day. Let’s bring Roosegaarde’s Waterlicht to Sacramento on March 22, 2020, both for its beauty and artistic impact, and also to generate awareness and discussion about the very real threats we face from flooding. Imagine the power of seeing the Capitol, Tower Bridge and Crocker Art Museum (which displays and stores its art on the upper floors in case of a 100-year flood) partially “submerged” beneath the undulating waves.

The Players

The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission is a natural facilitator for this project, but other relevant partners may include SMUD (Roosegaarde says his piece also draws attention to the relationship between water and power), Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Sacramento County Water Agency, California Department of Water Resources, California Arts Council and CalEPA.

The Bottom Line

In Paris, Waterlicht attracted more than 50,000 attendees during its run there. Over 60,000 folks turned out in Amsterdam for that city’s event. Picture tens of thousands of people “underwater” on Capitol Mall at night, all outside our state legislators’ windows. Local lawmakers have been talking about Sacramento becoming a leader in climate change in California. Let’s advance the conversation in our community by shining a light on this critical issue.S



This large-scale light installation illustrates the universal power and poetry of water and will have its Canadian premiere in Toronto from Friday October 12 to Sunday October 14, 2018. Waterlicht is a dream landscape created through the imaginative use of LEDs, special software, and lenses. Larger-than-life, cascading waves of blue light will soar underneath the Gardiner Expressway, simulating a virtual flood and calling attention to rising water levels along Toronto’s shoreline. . Originally WATERLICHT was created for the Dutch District Water Board. As a travelling exhibition, site-responsive versions have been staged in Amsterdam’s Museumplein, London’s Granary Square, and Paris’ Parc Clichy-Batignolle. The work will have its Canadian premiere at The Bentway and will embrace the unique physical features of the site while acknowledging its past as the original shoreline of Lake Ontario. To foster a city-wide conversation about the importance of clean water, the environment, and climate change, The Bentway is working with numerous partners. This additional programming includes: a panel discussion with the Art Gallery of Ontario; a youth ambassador program with Ryerson University’s School of Professional Communication and Ryerson University’s Urban Water Centre, and Waterlution; and a two-part educational workshop with the Ontario Climate Consortium and OCAD University. . . Toronto, Canada October 2018 . . . #sethvane #sethvanephotography #WaterLicht #DiscoverON #DiscoverTO #tobentway #bentway #architecture #publicart #urbandesign #Tones #cloudy #fog #mood #narcitycanada #canada #nightshooterz #MoodyGrams #visualambassadors #artofvisuals #milliondollarvisuals #fatalframes #all2epic #cybervibe #ourstreetdays #ig_neoncities #thestreetproject #theimaged #StreetsOfToronto #Torontoclx

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Waterlicht at Lumiere London by Dan Roosegaarde, this installation has a great message about rising sea levels & global warming 🌊 Managed to capture the waves perfectly interacting with 3 Pancras Square by Porphyrios Architects . . . . . @visitlondon @fujifilm_uk #lumierelondon #london #kingscross #porphyriosassociates #gfx50s #repostmyfujifilm #architecture #fujifilm #light #thisislondon #visitlondon #lightart #uk #london4all #winterlights #archilovers #gfx #fujifeed #arcblu #design #danroosegaarde #lumiereldn #granarysquare #installation #waterlicht #toplondonphoto #mysecretlondon #brightnights #london_city_photo #photooftheday @london @secret.london @visitlondonofficial @toplondonphoto @moodygrams @londonsbest

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