Following the contributions by Jeff Koons and John Baldessari, Cao Fei (b. 1978) is the youngest and first Chinese artist ever to create a BMW Art Car. 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. In the presence of Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, and hundreds of invited guests, the reveal of BMW Art Car #18 was celebrated at the Minsheng Art Museum in Beijing.

”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?” – Cao Fei

Cao Fei’s work is a reflection on the speed of change in China, on tradition and future. With her BMW Art Car project, she delves into a trajectory spanning thousands of years, paying tribute to Asia’s ancient spiritual wisdom as it swiftly spreads out into the third millennium. The multimedia artist approached the BMW Art Car in a way typical for her artistic practice, building a parallel universe. The body of work consists of three different components: a video focusing on a time traveling spiritual practitioner, augmented reality features picturing colorful light particles, accessible via a dedicated app (App Store: keyword “BMW Art Car #18″), and the BMW M6 GT3 racecar in its original carbon black. Paying tribute to the carbon fiber structure of the racecar chassis, Cao Fei’s holistic use of a non-reflective black incorporates the car into the possibilities of the digital world.

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Cao Fei’s implementation of video art as well as augmented reality creates an environment of which the M6 GT3 is an essential part. In her video work, the practitioner executes spiritual movements, which echo in colorful streams of light. When the app is used within the premises of the car, these light swishes become an AR installation floating above and around the BMW M6 GT3. 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.

The jury of the 18thBMW Art Car consisted of the following members: Richard Armstrong, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Chris Dercon, then Tate Modern; Juan Gaitán, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo; Gabriele Horn, Berlin Biennale; Udo Kittelmann, Nationalgalerie Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Dr. Matthias Mühling, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Gallery; 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.

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Over the summer, her multimedia installation will be displayed at the BMW Experience Shanghai, a brand and driving experience center, before her BMW M6 GT3 needs to prove itself on the racetrack of the FIA FT World Cup in Macau on November 17 to 19, 2017. A virtual experience of her BMW Art Car will also be on display at the UBS Forum during Art Basel in Basel in June 2017.


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