Thijs Biersteker is many “things.” A visionary, certainly, and, just as certainly, a great artist and an (interactive) designer. But he is also a poet. And, without a shadow of doubt, a modern warrior. That’s just a brief summary of the multifaceted soul of this Dutch eco-artist – he prefers to call himself an awareness artist – who uses digital technology to give a voice to nature and show how our flawed behaviours have a negative impact on the environment and on the climate. His work is a mixture of art and technology, it speaks of respect for the environment and looks to the future with interactive, compelling installations. Biersteker mixes sensors, scanners, extremely high resolution scanners, holograms, VR glasses and augmented reality with often natural elements such as trees, fog and tangible analogue objects. The uniqueness of his art lies in interpreting the intrinsic message in his objects. Other performers allow the viewer to decode the story of their works for themselves, whereas Biersteker’s message is powerful and clear from the outset. The imagination does not play on the meaning of the installation, but on the implications of its message for our world. The emphasis is always on the Eco and never on the Ego. Here are a couple of examples: Symbiosia, one of his latest works on the theme of climate change, in collaboration with plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, was presented to the Cartier Foundation in Paris. It features two trees – a horse chestnut and a Turkey Oak – that “tell” what is happening inside them in real time. This is achieved thanks to sensors that detect their reaction to noise and air pollution. The other installation, Pollutive Ends, in Chengdu, was, as always, inspired by something that concerns him. Who has not tossed a cigarette butt on the ground at least once in their lives? Today, we can measure the impact of that stub, especially in China, where three and a half million people smoke (2.3 trillion cigarettes smoked in a single year - World Health Organisation data), and 67% of these cigarettes end up in the environment. Research shows that one single cigarette butt pollutes 150 litres of water and that, in one hour, a single litre of this water can kill 50% of the marine organisms it comes into contact with. In Pollutive Ends, the “polluted” water is pumped into a network of transparent tubes, the quantity corresponding to the number of people in the room at that particular moment. The message is distressing, but Biersteker always manages to put it across poetically so that the issue of pollution and climate change becomes accessible to people who feel small and impotent faced with such a vast and complex matter.