“One Beat One Tree” by Belgian artist  Naziha Mestaoui, displays a world of innovation and technology, and its ability to simulate the spectacle of life as well as growth, in an interactive and heartfelt simulation.  The installation consists of a projection of digital forests on cityscapes, bringing the technology as well as the nature into a perceived symbiotic relationship.  However, the real magic of this piece comes with the interactive capabilities of this virtual environment, in which the participants are given a heartbeat sensor that syncs with their phones[1], where with each beat, the virtual trees seem to sprout and continue to grow in the virtual space. 

 

Screen%20Shot%202019-02-24%20at%209.51.4 In an article on the installation written by the Huffington Post, they state that, “to further increase the fluidity between visible and invisible, the digital trees are later physically planted in regions throughout the world, from Europe and Latin America to Africa and Asia.”[2]  This creates an interesting relationship between organic life and technology, playing into the capabilities that technology, a seemingly unnatural entity, has to connect people with the natural world.  D.H. Lawrence once wrote, “The business of art is to reveal the relation between man and his circumambient universe at this living moment. As mankind is always struggling in the toil of old relationships, art is always ahead of its ‘times’, which themselves are always far in the rear of the living present.”[3] 

 

Screen%20Shot%202019-02-24%20at%209.54.1Mestaoui seems to be taking on a similar framework, enabling her art to respark the relationship of man and Earth, when in the heart of the concrete jungle. Moreover, the sparking of her interest in this type of technological installation that emits to real world preservation stemmed from a project where she worked in the Amazon for 14 years.  The people and tribes she became familiar with inspired her with their intense connection to the natural world.  Mestaoui explained in an interview with the Huffington Post, that the people don’t just see trees as just a wood baring organic entity, but rather an entity with a spirit and intelligence all of its own that could teach them real lessons.[4] 

 

Screen%20Shot%202019-02-24%20at%209.55.4Mestaoui found it necessary to make an art piece that utilized technology to connect other cultures and peoples to connect with this “immaterial” essence of nature, through the immaterial structuring of virtual worlds.  Furthermore, this installation encourages symbiosis with technology and nature, as well as challenging people to look at nature in a new light, housing not only physical objects, but impalpable values and lifeblood that can both ground us to the planet and advocate for conservation for the natural world as well.

 

 

 

 

[1] - Frank, Priscilla. "You Can Plant A Virtual Tree That Grows To The Rhythm Of Your Heartbeat." The Huffington Post. December 07, 2017. Accessed February 25, 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/one-beat-one-tree_n_5512285.html.

[2] - Frank, Priscilla. "You Can Plant A Virtual Tree That Grows To The Rhythm Of Your Heartbeat." The Huffington Post. December 07, 2017. Accessed February 25, 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/one-beat-one-tree_n_5512285.html.

[3] - Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media (London: Phaidon, 2014), 101.

[4] - Frank, Priscilla. "You Can Plant A Virtual Tree That Grows To The Rhythm Of Your Heartbeat." The Huffington Post. December 07, 2017. Accessed February 25, 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/one-beat-one-tree_n_5512285.html.

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