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Light traces and tire tracks – how the auto industry presents itself 4
by Thomas Wagner | 11/30/2009
Advertorial BMW Z4 Roadster

While there may be sand beneath the cobbles, there's rarely paper and pen beneath tires. And Jackson Pollock certainly did not drive a Beamer. And Jack the Dripper was also not the mind behind the overly typical "creative idea" for the global campaign for the new BMW Z4 Roadster. That accolade goes to South African street artist Robin Rhode, who under the motto of "exploring an expression of joy" uses the new BMW to drive across a floor covering the size of a football pitch, whereby the tire tracks coat it in strips of different colors - none other than Hollywood director (and nothing less than Hollywood suffices these days) Jake Scott has dynamically mised the action painting en scene.

The sportscar as artistic tool that leaves colorful, chaotic and expressive tracks on a huge canvas - that is as far a cry from good art as is a pedalo from the Z4. Not to mention the modest gestural sleights of hand the artist performs now and again on smaller sheets of paper. As if a sportscar driver had nothing else in mind than to drive in purportedly creative colored circles. It will always be a mystery to me why people insist on doing such things. After all, tires have already left their mark on art - be it in the work of Robert Rauschenberg or that of Richard Hamilton, albeit without the car and in the sense of an impression. Rehashed Action Painting in a roadster was not part of things to date, and for good reason.

Things are a little less over-done as regards art when Audi relies on a nice, hand-drawn DIY man to get the Audi Q5 out of the box, freeing it of the carton, even if we must hope that the design is not actually made of cardboard itself. And the use of animated flip-books, and they are technically quite accomplished, does not try and pretend to be art, but simply makes use of a straightforward medium in a surprising way.

The use of light effects is evidently very popular among the creative directors in the ad agencies. The path from Hans Richter's filmic experiments with rhythmic abstract shapes in the 1920s and Oskar Fischinger's animated ad clips of the 1930s (think of the marching parade of cigarettes in "Muratti greift ein") through to today's computer-animated crafted art is, however, very indirect and says much about the fear with which advertising today encounters avant-garde forms of art.
If the sonorous sound of a Lexus ISF engine is illustrated by means of abstract computer graphics, in one instance as a bundle of lines, in another as gleaming metallic stalks, traveling ever more quickly through a dark room as the revs per minute increase, then the overall impression is one of a strange lack of reference point and a strong streak of arbitrariness. It would have been more exciting if Lexus had asked an artist like Takashi Murakami to make a film.

Mazda does it differently, but not better. The fact that the shape of the new Mazda 3's body is so dynamic because it arose from lines of light that an artist-cum-designer drew in the air is by no means as poetic as the engineers would like to think. And it also has nothing to do with design.

Advertorial BMW Z4 Roadster
Advertorial Audi Q5
Advertorial Audi Q5
Advertorial Lexus ISF
Advertorial Mazda 3