Some might already consider certain BMW models works of art, but the automaker has long looked to further enhance the cultural credentials of its vehicles. Since 1967 it has been providing cars to act as canvases for famous artists, but the finished works have all been physical pieces. The latest takes the tradition in a very different, digital direction.
The 18th BMW Art Car is the work of Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei. There are three distinct elements to the art piece: a BMW M6 GT3 racecar in original carbon black, a series of images that can be explored via augmented reality, and a video focusing on a "time travelling spiritual practitioner."
In the video, the movements of the "spiritual practitioner" are echoed by colorful bursts of light. These bursts are also visible in the pictures, but visitors to the BMW Experience in Shanghai will need to download a dedicated phone app to enjoy them. The car will be displayed against a non-reflective black background, which comes to life with light swishes when visitors view it through the phone app.
According to BMW, the goal was to make viewers a more active part of the installation. It's also meant to reflect a "traditional spiritual ceremony" conducted in parts of Asia, where new objects are blessed in search of good luck.
"Cao Fei's achievement in creating the 18th BMW Art Car through augmented reality as a multimedia installation resonates with the rapid development and huge transformation of China over the past decades, such as globalization, urbanization and digitalization, which drives the flourishing development of contemporary art in China," says Fan Di'an, President of China Central Academy of Fine Arts. "In the increasingly digitalized world, technology has become an important means for artists to create."
The BMW Art Car will be on display at the BMW Experience in Shanghai for the next few months, before being raced in Macau at the FIA FT World Cup in November.