In 2016 French photographer and street artist Philippe Echaroux unveiled a new, fascinating light projection art piece titled “The Blood Forest”, which aimed at drawing attention to the problem of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Invited by the Surui people to help raise awareness on this topic, Echaroux shot a series of portraits of individual members of their tribe and beautifully projected them onto the trees of the Amazon rainforest, as a symbolic representation of the intimate connection between the tribe and its land. The Surui are led by Chief Almir Narayamoga, an environmentalist and political activist who was entrusted by the Brazilian government to help work on a reforestation program. Among other things, he even contacted Google Earth to teach the Surui how to use digital technology to monitor the forest!
When thinking about the Amazon, the first things that usually come to mind are beautiful images of exotic plants and natural waterways snaking through lush forests, but sadly most of the land is undergoing massive deforestation that is putting both the territory and its people in danger. Also known as the “world’s lung” because of the oxygen produced by its trees, the Amazon rainforest has been progressively invaded by unscrupulous loggers hunting for precious Brazilian hardwoods. At the same time, illegal miners also flocked to the region looking for gold and diamonds. Despite all the efforts to shed light on the consequences that such practices have on the local environment, the scale of forest loss over the last years is significant to say the least.
For this project, Echaroux enlarged each photograph and blended it seamlessly with the surrounding natural environment using a clever play of light projections.
The soft hues of nature combined with the night lights made the final result even more mesmerizing. Some portraits are partially immersed in water, others gaze into the starry sky, but all radiate the great pride that these people have for their native land. When looking at these brilliant light projections, we are reminded of the precious connection between man and nature and that cutting trees is equivalent to destroying these people and their entire culture.
Born in 1983, Echaroux is a talented artist who started his career as a celebrity photographer for newspapers and later moved to street art. He found fame with the project Painting with Lights, a series of large-scale, temporary works of light projection art that kicked off what he called ‘Street Art 2.0”. Light painting is a technique that allows creating mesmerizing street art pieces that are visually impactful yet gentle to the environment – perfect to convey powerful messages as seen with The Blood Forest.
The artist’s beautiful light projections in the Amazon were initially conceived as a private ceremony just for the forest and its people, but some photographs from the installation were later displayed at the Tagliatella Gallery in Paris for everyone to understand the drama of the Surui tribe. Some behind-the-scenes glimpses of this marvelous light art project are available here.