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Teresa van Dongen

SlotLab – Teresa van Dongen

By 17-03-2020

Designer Teresa van Dongen explores how you can let light burn by using alternative sources. Her light installations do not work through sticking a plug into a socket but they work on bacterial fluid. She is surprised that the lighting of office buildings is on at night while everyone has already gone home. “We think far too little about it – yes, maybe you do if you fill up your car. I’m not saying I have the solution, but I do think there are a lot of people who don’t care about our energy consumption.”

Light from electroactive bacteria
The design research that Van Dongen is working on within the context of Slotlab is taking place on the ruin of the South Limburg Castle Schaesberg. In the castle moat, Van Dongen took samples to test whether energy producing organisms are present in the moat. “I discovered that the water is pure and that due to that the ecosystem is rather stable. By connecting a tube containing some moat water to an electrode with a small light, a bright light started to shine. In muddy water beds, electroactive bacteria clean the dirty water, while emitting small bits of power. In theory, you can use it as an energy source, but a large-scale application has never been found for it.” 

Light during 24 hours a day
Her design method fits in well with one of the starting points of Slotlab: this is how Slotlab stimulates the diversity and richness of the craft construction process, based on combinations of materials, techniques and crafts. Van Dongen has previously designed the light installations ‘Spark of life’ and ‘Electric Life’ with energy from bacterial fluid. “These installations continue to provide light during 24 hours a day. Some people ask why there’s no button on it, but that’s not what I like. This lighting only works if you can also keep a plant alive.”

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More Teresa van Dongen > 02.12.2014 / 02.03.2020

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