BMW recently revealed its 18th Art Car, created by multimedia artist Cao Fei.

Cao Fei is the first Chinese and the youngest creator of a BMW Art Car to date, and the second Asian artist since the project’s inception after Japanese Matazo Kayama in 1990.

Cao Fei's BMW Art Car 2017 project. Video still. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car 2017 project. Video still. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

The latest BMW Art Car was revealed at the Minsheng Art Museum in Beijing on 31 May 2017. Created by Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei, the car is the 18th in a series that began in 1975 with Alexander Calder’s contribution. Since then, artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Olafur Eliasson, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons and John Baldessari among others have created a BMW Art Car.

This summer, Cao Fei’s multimedia installation will be displayed at the BMW Experience Shanghai, a brand and driving experience centre, before her BMW M6 GT3 is used on the racetrack of the FIA FT World Cup in Macau from 17 to 19 November 2017. A virtual experience of her BMW Art Car is currently on display at the UBS Forum at Art Basel in Basel.

Cao Fei's BMW Art Car 2017 project. Installation. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car 2017 project. Installation. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei’s art car was selected by a jury that comprised, among others, Richard Armstrong, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Chris Dercon, then Tate Modern; Gabriele Horn, Berlin Biennale; Udo Kittelmann, Nationalgalerie Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries; Shwetal A. Patel, Kochi-Muziris Biennale; Beatrix Ruf, Stedelijk Museum; Bisi Silva, The Centre for Contemporary Art; Philip Tinari, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art; and Adam D. Weinberg, Whitney Museum of American Art.

World premiere of Cao Fei's BMW Art Car #18 at Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing, 31 May 2017. (Cao Fei in the middle). Image courtesy BMW.

World premiere of Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car #18 at Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing, 31 May 2017. (Cao Fei in the middle). Image courtesy BMW.

A car for the 21st century: going digital

By creating her BMW Art Car, Cao Fei addresses the future of mobility – autonomous driving, airborne cars and digitalisation – with augmented and virtual reality. The car is a reflection on the speed of change and transformation taking place in China, and on tradition and future. In her BMW Art Car project, the artist spans thousands of years, paying homage to China’s ancient spiritual traditions while also portraying its present jump into the new millennium.

Cao Fei's BMW Art Car 2017 project. Video still. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car 2017 project. Video still. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei has created a parallel universe that comprises three elements. A video focuses on a time travelling spiritual practitioner in ancient Chinese attire, while augmented reality features picturing colourful light particles are accessible via a dedicated app (App Store: keyword “BMW Art Car #18″). Her BMW M6 GT3 racecar produced in its original carbon black colour, as BMW explains, pays homage to the carbon fibre structure of the racecar chassis, while the non-reflective black shade “incorporates the car into the possibilities of the digital world”. The car becomes an essential part of the environment created by Cao Fei.

Cao Fei's BMW Art Car 2017 project. Video still. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car 2017 project. Video still. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

While in the video the spiritual figure executes movements that emit colourful streams of light, when the app is used, light swishes take the form of an AR installation floating around the BMW car. As BMW expands,

This narrative reflects on a traditional spiritual ceremony very common throughout Asia in which new objects such as automobiles are being blessed, in this case wishing good luck to car and driver. On a broader level, the light elements mirror what the eyes cannot see and the mind cannot picture.

Cao Fei's BMW Art Car 2017 project. Installation. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Cao Fei’s BMW Art Car 2017 project. Installation. Image courtesy the artist and BMW.

Quoted in the press release, Cao Fei adds:

 To me, light represents thoughts. As the speed of thoughts cannot be measured, the #18 Art Car questions the existence of the boundaries of the human mind. We are entering a new age, where the mind directly controls objects and where thoughts can be transferred, such as unmanned operations and artificial intelligence. Which attitudes and temperaments hold the key to opening the gateway to the new age?

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1738

Related Topics: Chinese artists, multimedia, video, virtual reality, events in Beijing

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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