BMW Art Cars have been around since 1975, when artist Alexander Calder got his creative hands on a BMW 3.0 CSL. Since then, a range of artists from John Baldessari to Andy Warhol have created their own rolling works of art.
The latest to join the ranks is China's Cao Fei. She created a unique design for BMW Art Car #18 that requires a downloadable app to fully appreciate its beauty and uniqueness.
"By employing augmented and virtual reality, the internationally acclaimed Chinese multimedia artist addresses the future of mobility such as autonomous driving, airborne cars and digitalization," BMW said in a release.
Fei's creation, a carbon black 2017 BMW M6 GT3 racecar with matte black accents, made its debut at the Minsheng Art Museum in Beijing.
Her work consists of three different components: the car, a streaming light video, and colorful light particles that can only be seen via a dedicated augmented reality app. Without the app, the installation looks like, well, a normal carbon black race car.
"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," said Cao Fei in a release.
The 2017 BMW M6 GT3 packs a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine under the hood that offers 585 hp. The V-8 is mated to a six-speed sequential racing transmission and has a top speed of 174 mph.
"The 18th BMW Art Car is perfectly suited to this era. Cao Fei took the logical step of creating the first ever-digital Art Car. The augmented reality experience makes this BMW M6 GT3 unique. For everyone involved at BMW Motorsport it was both exciting and fascinating to work with Cao Fei and her team on this project," said Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport director, in a statement.
"This makes 2017 a very special year in the history of BMW Art Cars. First, the BMW M6 GTLM Art Car of John Baldessari took to the track in Daytona, at the end of the season comes Art Car #18 by Cao Fei in Macau. This makes the tradition of BMW Art Cars livelier than ever."
After making the art world circuit, Fei's BMW will race at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau.
"It's a huge honor for me to race Cao Fei's BMW Art Car," said Augusto Farfus, BMW works driver, about the project. "I'm extremely proud that I get the chance to drive my second Art Car this year. This is absolutely unique for a racing driver."