Invited to celebrate the schooner’s arrival in Paris, the United Nations virtual ambassador, better known as Elyx, has put himself in impossible situations (evidence in images).
With just a few pencil strokes, this little mischievous and joyful character, found himself hanging from the Eiffel Tower or wearing a duck-shaped buoy. His creator, designer Yacine Ait Kaci, nicknamed Yak, is partly responsible. And it looks like Yak was largely inspired by his time aboard Tara. With a notebook and a black felt-tipped pen, he communicates on climate and environmental issues through this little character made of simple lines. Interview with a committed cartoonist.
Who is Elyx and how did he come about?
Elyx is a virtual character, a good-natured little fellow who evolves in everyday life. He has a universal dimension: he doesn’t speak, has no sign of cultural or sexual identity. But Elyx is committed to protecting the environment!
He was born on a piece of paper, very simply, in a kind of “maximum expression”, ie, how to express a maximum with the fewest lines possible. I’d say he touches the child within each of us. It’s in his DNA. However, he’s not intended for children but addresses the part of us remaining from childhood.
I am versatile artist, coming from the digital world. Elyx is therefore an extension, through drawing, of my reflection on the relationship between reality and fiction, “virtual”and “real”. Today, social networks have finally become a kind of 5th power, following the 4th power of the press. However, it’s not a traditional pyramidal power from the “top down”, but a “bottom-up” process from the general public reaching up to the decision-makers. Elyx was born on social networks and followers empowered him. He’s also a form of expression which shows that anyone on the planet can express himself using very simple tools such as a notebook, a pen and a smartphone.
Elyx is also a digital ambassador and not just any ambassador!
Yes, this year, Elyx has become the first digital ambassador of the United Nations. He communicates on the UN network, as during the World Oceans Day, on sustainable development objectives, etc. Through Elyx, I commit to protecting the environment with various NGOs and activists. During the 2015 Paris Climate conference and even before, Elyx will be seen everywhere. He’ll create the link between the different actions and various NGOs to show that these issues concern us all. These questions are individual matters before being issues of State.
Tara and Elyx: was this an inevitable encounter?
Elyx is a global citizen. He’s also a vector, a media vehicle that concerns us all. He’s deeply involved in the COP21, in a very joyful way: he’s a “climate-optimist”. He believes solutions exist and we’ll manage to get through this environmental crisis. The meeting with Tara therefore happened very naturally.
Parents play a major role in their children’s education. If Elyx is a “climate-optimist”, does that mean that his dad, Yak, is too?
I’m a dad in real life, I’ve got a 3-year old little girl. I feel a bit co-responsible, like everyone else, for the current situation that gets more and more dramatic everyday. At the same time, there are a number of solutions and everyday actions each of us can implement without waiting for nations to sign agreements.
Elyx being my creation, he somehow embodies this new way of living in the 21st century, that will prevail in the times to come. So yes, I too am a “climate-optimist”! We need to revise our perception of growth, success, comfort, etc. We must reassess our priorities and our system of values.
By setting foot on board, Elyx has become an integral part of the crew.
With great pleasure! Elyx is a digital ambassador. He will therefore become a virtual Taranaut and establish the link on social networks between the schooner and the general public. He’ll play on the imaginary and poetic dimension of Tara’s expeditions, this image of romanticism and adventure. Tara is a human and contemporary adventure that addresses today’s issues. We need icons, heroes, public figures like Tara and her crew who are ambassadors of the ocean, working for a collective cause. And Elyx – modestly, on his own scale and thanks to his status of virtual hero- will be able to sail the sea with Tara’s crew.
Will you participate in the Global Climate March to be held on November 29?
Yes, I’m working on a video for this event. I suggest people download drawings and upload pictures of themselves with these drawings that I’ll integrate into the video. This is a collaborative and inclusive project. Here’s the message: even if the participating nations are struggling to achieve the goal they’ve set themselves for the COP21, the Climate March is above all a worldwide gathering of citizens. We really have to stop waiting for changes and decisions to come from the top down. This way of thinking is totally obsolete nowadays.
Interview by Noëlie Pansiot