on the occasion of the BMW Group’s 50 years of cultural commitment, the definitive collector’s garage that is BMW’s art cars is made digital. acute art – Enabling new technologies for London-based art: visualize realistic cars augmented reality, available for free on your smartphone anywhere, anytime. new technology brings the artwork to the road, visible by mountains or simply to the comfort of your home.
‘acute artistic collaboration is capable of exploring technology in the service of the arts in an immersive way. BMW art cars in the virtual world are a natural progression of what we strive for at BMW: to be at the crossroads of design, technology, art, racing and the future,‘ he tells Thomas girst, global head of cultural commitment of the BMW group, in an exclusive interview with Jacob de Geer, Sharp art CEO, and designboom.
BMW art car by alexander calder, BMW 3.0 CSL, augmented reality. courtesy of the artist and acute art in collaboration with the culture of the BMW group. © 2021 calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London
(main image: BMW art car matazo kayama, BMW 535i, augmented reality. courtesy of the artist and acute art in collaboration with the culture of the BMW group)
‘as a company, we always consider ourselves at the forefront of design and technology, so BMW artistic cars pay homage to this, and I would think that the exploration of digital space is in our nothing when it comes to BMW art car series,‘ Thomas continues.
the journey through BMW art cars it began in 1975 when French racing driver Hervé Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint his BMW race car. since then, 19 prominent artists have followed suit but in their own creative interpretations and in different vehicle models. include well-known names such as john baldessari, olafur eliasson i jenny holzer to name just a few. each made extremely unique statements that are celebrated to reflect cultural and historical progressions within art, design, and technology.
‘I think joining acute art is just a perfect match made in heaven. they had worked together with jeff koons and cao fei and other artists we’ve collaborated with before,‘ reveals Thomas. ‘cao fei, the 18th BMW art car artist, who already explored augmented and virtual realities when creating an app for his vehicle. technology was already an integral part of the art vehicle collection and its transformation into the future.‘
Jeff koons BMW art car, BMW M3 GT2, augmented reality. courtesy of the artist and acute art in collaboration with the culture of the BMW group. © jeff koons
acute art collaborates with the world’s leading contemporary artists. they give access to cutting-edge technologies that allow them to translate creative visions into new digital media, including virtual (VR), augmented (AR) and mixed (MR) realities. BMW art cars were carefully scanned from all angles using a photogrammetry methodology. captured all the details of the artists ’intervention on the surface of the vehicle, before it was digitally assembled.
‘the artistic cars were carefully scanned using a sophisticated photogrammetry method ensuring the capture of every detail. high-resolution cameras capture the details of cars from all angles and are finally assembled to operate in RA. if you place the AR version next to the physical original and take a picture, I doubt you can tell which one is which,‘ says Jacob.
BMW art car by esther mahlangu, BMW 525i, augmented reality. courtesy of the artist and acute art in collaboration with the culture of the BMW group
‘Virtual reality can be spectacular, but you can only see graphic art through a headset and this limits availability. On the other hand, AR allows anyone with a mobile device to access the intense art app and therefore any of BMW’s art vehicles. spectators can also place the cars wherever they want, in the garden, on the roof or in the hall, if large enough. in a way, the viewer becomes a king of the co-curator of the experience,‘ clarifies the acute art CEO.
with acute art, BMW art cars enter the digital world. digital filming sculptures are available to everyone worldwide at any time – Just work with the free smartphone app. this means that the work can be performed practically in this totally immersive 360-degree exhibition: indoors, outdoors and in the most unexpected places.
‘AR has democratizing potential in the sense that it can reach a huge audience. as important as the size of the audience is perhaps the ability to overcome geographical distances. in the future, BMW art cars will be able to be placed anywhere and seen by the public everywhere. no one has to travel, nothing needs to be sent,‘ adds Jacob.
BMW art car by michael jagamara nelson, BMW M3, augmented reality. courtesy of the artist and acute art in collaboration with the culture of the BMW group
the vision of democratizing art is key for both BMW and acute art. the digitization of the Art Car series takes the work to places where before it could not be. acute art demonstrates how augmented reality makes entirely new exhibition formats possible. missing the days of quiet and individual museum visits; new technologies create carefully curated interactive experiences for the group’s audience. accessibility and commitment reach new levels with the medium.
‘augmented reality is a medium that completely frees art from institutional contexts. we can install these works anywhere and anyone equipped with a smartphone can experience them. we have produced RA experiences that have reached much larger audiences than any museum exhibition,‘ remarks Jacob de Geer.
‘BMW always wants to reach as many people as possible not only to spread the brand’s message and gospel, but to make people truly involved in the arts, in culture,‘ adds Thomas. ‘lower the bar to access it, but don’t water down the complexities. don’t join the “bling-bling” of the art market, but create meaning and create something meaningful in a dialogue with artists. our sharp artistic collaboration has been greeted with the same enthusiasm by many of the vehicle artists in the series because they have the same mission to reach a wide audience to make their vision.‘
BMW art car by john baldessari, BMW M6 GTLM, augmented reality. courtesy of the artist and acute art in collaboration with the culture of the BMW group. © john baldessari 2016. courtesy of john baldessari property © 2021. courtesy sprüth magers
launching on July 21, 2021, viewers will be able to experience an entire portfolio of cars, including alexander calder (BMW 3.0 CSL, 1975), michael jagamara nelson (BMW M3, 1989), ken done (BMW M3, 1989), matazo kayama (BMW 535i, 1990), esther mahlangu (BMW 525i, 1991), jeff koons (BMW M3 GT2, 2010) and john baldessari (BMW M6 GTLM, 2016). other renowned art cars will be integrated into the platform every two weeks.
‘can there be a virtual car in the future? I will certainly not rule anything out, mainly because any artist who is chosen by an independent international group of museum directors can do whatever they want. they are free, because we believe in freedom as the cornerstone of what is possible in the arts, because it is as important for great masterpieces as it is for our designers and engineers to really deliver fantastic cars. I think it is this freedom of creativity that will guide us towards the future of the series of art vehicles, wherever it takes us,‘ concludes Thomas girst.
Mark: BMW Group
cultural initiative: BMW art cars
collaborator: acute art
application: acute art