A remarkable 26 percent of the Netherlands is below sea level. A series of dikes, dams and waterworks are used to keep the country from being submerged. But what would happen if those defenses weren't there? An installation by Studio Roosegaarde aims to show just that.

Studio Roosegaarde has perhaps been best known recently for its glow-in-the-dark highway and cycle path projects. Although the Waterlicht work is similarly compelling, it is one of the studio's more artistic projects.

Recently installed in Amsterdam's near 8-acre (350,000-sq ft) Museumplein square, Waterlicht used light to show what parts of the country would be like if there were no water defenses in place. Artist and studio founder Daan Roosegaarde says it's easy to take the defenses for granted.

"Waterlicht shows how the Netherlands would look without waterworks; a virtual flood," says Roosegaarde. "Innovation is seen throughout our landscape, pushed by the waterworks and our history, but yet we almost seem to have forgotten this."

The installation uses LED lighting, lenses and software to create a visual effect. Steam machines are used to produce a medium that captures the light. There are about seven LED lights at a height of about 2 m (6.6 ft) and the movement of these coupled with the movement of the steam creates a sense of waves and water. As the local weather changes, with the wind blowing the steam in different directions, so too does the artwork.

Waterlicht has been on display at the Museumplein from May 11-13. It was originally commissioned by the Dutch Water Board and was previously displayed in the flood channel of the River IJssel near Westervoort.

The video below shows the Waterlicht installation.

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