duendepr.com news Electronic Shadow, from 3 minutes² to the Frac Centre

Electronic Shadow, from 3 minutes² to the Frac Centre

FRAC_7895© Electronic Shadow 2013_BD

For almost 14 years Electronic Shadow has articulated the fundamental truth “Atom is data” in order to consider reality and virtuality in a mutual continuation formed of inextricably linked comings and goings. A life heightened by information, a virtual space yearning to take over everyday life to make it even more tangible and rich. While their bright, interactive intervention on Jakob+MacFarlane’s building for the FRAC Centre hails them as forerunners of the digital generation, the duo celebrates the 10th anniversary of “3minutes²” and of the first video mapping ever patented. A very real anniversary for the pioneers virtually lost in the reality. A furtive oxymoron, Electronic Shadow the artistic duo comprising Naziha Mestaoui and Yacine Aït Kaci, originated in 2000, the fruit of an encounter between two worlds which were until then not necessarily connected: architecture and new media.


Naziha Mestaoui (1975) is a DPLG architect, a graduate of La Cambre School of Visual Arts in Brussels, and researches the contribution of digital technology to architecture and urbanism for which she won a project to redefine the Thessaloniki Centre. Yacine Aït Kaci (1973) followed the Arts décoratifs de Paris course of studies where he considered the benefits of multidisciplinary education through practices linked to multimedia. He has produced several noteworthy creations in the field like the Louvre DVD-Rom and the CD-Rom about Yves Saint Laurent.

Together, they strive to question the permeability that exists between real and virtual worlds, developing creations that are closely linked with architecture, visual arts, set design, performance and design. They highlight that the world generated by digital technology is only an extension of the very physical one in which we are evolving.
In 2003, Electronic Shadow developed a technological process at the origin of what is known today as 3D mapping. The 3minutes² installation supports the creation of a media that combines space and images in an interactive relationship conditioned by the user – a performer – evolving in this setting. Their movements generate a work of fiction that influences the projected visual environment, at the same time requiring the body as an interface between the real and the virtual. ‘By merging the space, image and network, we construct what we call hybrid realities’ explained Naziha Mestaoui and Yacine Aït Kaci. This unprecedented technological development will be rapidly patented and herald the creation of the production structure ES Studio.

With a wealth of experience behind them, the partnership won a mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2004, then in 2005 the Grand Prix at the Japan Media Art Festival – a first for a French entity– as well as the Laval Virtual trophy in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, Electronic Shadow teamed up with the architecture firm Jakob + MacFarlane, in the context of an invitation for tender which for the first time combined an architect and an artist, on the project for the new Frac Centre building in Orléans (Les Turbulences). And won the competition. Called Résonances, this work specifically designed for the building, that opened in September 2013, was in fact conceived like a bright graft introducing a principle of interaction with the urban environment, based on climatic data, as well as image scenarios designed by the duo. This interactive veil of light comprises hundreds of LEDs and functions when activated through light images that at the same time resonate with the characteristic architecture.

FRAC_8091© Electronic Shadow 2013_BD

Electronic Shadow is hard to categorise, demonstrating that it is as capable of working with a choreographer like Carolyn Carlson (Double Vision in 2006), as with companies like ST Dupont, Microsoft, and exhibiting its installations in art museums (MOMA, New York, Centre Pompidou Paris, Musée Granet in Aix en Provence…) and participating in design events (Milan Furniture Fair, Cassina) as well as accompanying celebratory events devoted to key figures, as was the case with Paul Cézanne on the 100th anniversary of his death.

Over the last three years, Naziha Mestaoui and Yacine Aït Kaci have also developed personal and autonomous projects leading them to appear in exhibitions and festivals under their own names. Recently, Yacine Aït Kaci designed the layout for an exhibition devoted to Albert Camus (Aix-en-Provence) or returning to his early practices creating the Elyx mascot whilst Naziha Mestaoui has a research project underway about the traditional practices of populations that will take her to the heart of the Amazon region.

Further information on: www.electronicshadow.com