Planned for the big United Nations climate conference in Paris next year, Naziha Mestaoui’s “forests of light” show is really two light shows in one. The first is the public show on the buildings and monuments, which will be made up of trees generated in 3-D. The second is the image of the show on mobile phones, augmented with “unique virtual trees” attuned to each viewer’s heartbeat.
“Having long been the city of light, symbol of industrial modernity and progress, Paris illuminates to embody the post-ecological modernity,” says Mestaoui, a Belgo-Tunisian artist who lives and works in Paris.
The image grows according to heartbeat of the viewer. “I use the smartphone camera to identify the heartbeat of everyone,” Mestaoui says. “This rhythm beaten a seed of light that will create a virtual tree that will grow to the rhythm of the heart of the visitor.”
The effect is monumental and consequential. Each time someone creates a virtual tree, a real tree is planted. Mestaoui has partnerships in place with Pur Projet and the WWF. She’s already planted 14,000 trees in France, India, Ghana, Brazil, and the Amazon, she says.
Pretty cool. As for the conference next year, Mestaoui hopes the light show will spur everyone to care about the issues. “The heads of state will discuss in order to reach agreement on measures affecting the climate,” she says. “One Beat One Tree will involve citizens [so] we each take responsibility through a positive symbolic act that will plant seeds of light on the monuments of Paris and live trees worldwide.”