Can we use technology to reconnect to Nature in order to build a different future and reality? This question is at the core of Naziha Mestaoui’s art work that connects the individual to the collective, questions our place and role on this planet and examines our relationship with other living things.
The Belgian-Tunisian artist and architect blends together technology, tradition and art to create innovative immersive experiences. Drawing knowledge from shamanism, tribal traditions, science and technology, she searches for the element that proves our interconnectedness.
“Since I was a kid I was passionate about the sciences because they show us the future but at the same time I wanted to question them. At 14 years old, I became passionate about quantum physics because they totally changed the perception we have of reality. Quantum physics showed that everything we see or touch is made up by energy and has a vibration.”
Τhe Amazon: a source of eternal inspiration
In 2011 she traveled to the Amazon where she met a tribe and stayed with them for a month. “I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of their reality and that changed the way I perceive the world. These indigenous people are part of a unity that includes every living organism. They have songs for almost every living thing and each song has a vibration that corresponds to the energy of the organism”. In other words, the daily reality of these ancestral societies is constantly shifting between the visible (material) and the invisible (immaterial).
“I wanted to create an art piece using technologies to connect us to this immaterial value of nature. I used Cymatics, the study of wave phenomena (especially sound), and I created a vibrating pool. A shaman sings and there are vibrations across the surface of the water. The reflections on the water change color affected by the shaman’s brainwaves which are analyzed via a brain interface”.
1 Beat 1 Tree
Another project that challenges the boundaries between the visible and non-visible is “1 Beat 1 Tree”, a digital artwork that invites the visitor to create a unique virtual tree at the rhythm of his/her heartbeat. For each virtual tree created, a real tree is planted in a reforestation program.
1 Heart 1 Tree
“The relationship tribal people have with plants and trees made me see clearly the interconnectedness between living beings and inspired me to work on my next project: “1 Heart 1 Tree”.
It is a digital project that comes together with a reforestation program destined to improve living conditions locally and fight the effects of climate change. In December 2015, the project was presented for the first time at the Eiffel Tower in Paris for the opening of the United Nations Climate Conference COP21.
“I transformed the Eiffel Tower into a virtual forest. It was connected to an application that people from all over the world could download and thanks to the camera on their phones, I could record their heartbeat which then ‘give birth’ to virtual trees. For every virtual tree, a real tree is planted which will have a long-term social and environmental impact on the area. Right now, we have reforestation programs in all five continents and more than 100 000 trees have been planted since the beginning. At every program, I work with the locals who plant local trees so that they can be feel they are building together a collective future”.
1 Tree 1 Planet
“I am currently working on another project that is called “1 Tree 1 Planet”, in collaboration with the University of Florida. Together with a team of geneticists I am working on the concept of the tree of life. During this project, we analyzed the DNA of each species and we identified which genome is common to all living organisms. I then isolated this genome and created a music symphony for it.
Her work has received several prestigious awards and has appeared in renowned art institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Photography in Tokyo, the Contemporary Art Biennale in Sevilla and Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Naziha Mestaoui is currently living in Paris but tours the world with her projects.