by Coll.eo

CARJACKED consists of a series of BMW cars created with the Livery editor of the popular videogame Forza Motorsport 4 (Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Game Studios, 2011, Xbox 360) by coll.eo.

Full Description

videos, screenshots, C-prints, playable cars

Work metadata

Want to see more?
Take full advantage of the ArtBase by Becoming a Member
Artist Statement

"I used to sell hippy art to collectors and these artists now live like the collectors I used to sell to. They have a house, a place in the country and a BMW." (Dave Hickey, 2012) Source

CARJACKED consists of a series of BMW cars created with the Livery editor of the popular videogame Forza Motorsport 4 (Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Game Studios, 2011, Xbox 360) by coll.eo.

This project is the digital counterpart of the ongoing BMW Art Cars initiative. In 1975, the German automaker asked several world-renowned artists to decorate a BMW car. It was French hobby racecar driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain who invited American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car. The initiative gained momentum and several other artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. followed Calder’s lead.

The relationship between art and cars has a long history. In 1909, Filippo Marinetti hailed the automobile as a symbol of modern life and saw in the racing car a modern equivalent the the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Exactly a century after the publication of the Futurist manifesto, the BMW Art Cars began a North American tour, starting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), then New York City at Grand Central Terminal - Vanderbilt Hall. The cars were also exhibited in México, first in MARCO, Monterrey, and later in Guadalajara and Mexico City. In July 2012 a selection was presented by the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in a Shoreditch car park as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Ironically, the increased visibility of BMW Art Cars has failed to redeem the car’s declining value as a status symbol. Today, automobiles have completely lost their glamour. Motor vehicles have been identified as one of the major causes of economic, environmental, and health problems in First World countries. With CARJACKED, colleo. is introducing a much needed update to the BMW Art Cars project, transferring it into in the digital space, where cars’ damage to society is less manifest. Coll.eo hijacked the project from the German automaker and selected a new generation of artists. CARJACKED is a reimagining of BMW’s original project in the game world, specifically in the popular Forza Motorsport series.

Racing games are glorified, interactive car commercials. The common denominator of the most popular titles, e.g. Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, and Forza, is their unrealistic portrayal of driving: players race through pedestrian-free streets of pristine metropolitan areas. Traffic, one of the major concerns of contemporary urban life, is curiously absent. Ditto for other key factors such as gasoline, pollution, and speed limit violations. Cars’ collateral damage is never simulated, unless it is celebrated as the demonstration of the gamer’s prowess, as in the case of President Barack Obama’s favorite racing game, Burnout Paradise which revolves around crashing virtual cars in dramatic, spectacular ways.

Originally, the BMW Art Cars were driven on race circuits by professional drivers. Today, they are mostly used to promote the brand. Calder’s 1975 car made its debut not in a gallery or museum, but on a racetrack. As Thomas Girst, the director of the BMW Art Cars project since 2004, explained:

"In the beginning the cars were raced. There wasn't much of a public relations effort around them... Since then, some of the Art Cars have been used in advertisements to show that BMW is a player in the arts. [...] As a company, we are not altruistically involved in the arts, that is for sure. We, of course, want to build up the image: the image of BMW. We want a positive association from our engagement in the arts for the brand as a whole. Over the years, our involvement in blue-chip art fairs like Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel, and Frieze London has certainly had an “in your face” approach: we want to be there with our cars, shuttle the VIPs, and thu s create visibility, presence, and exposure for our brand within a commercial enterprise.” (quoted in Preece, 2009)

CARJACKED brings the aura of the motor vehicle back into the game. These virtual cars are playable works of art. Players can now race their one-of-a-kind masterpieces in a sophisticated interactive car advertisement produced by Microsoft. The CARJACKED series is a complement to the tangible, concreted seventeen artworks created by Alexander Calder (3.0 CLS, 1975), Frank Stella (3.0 CLS, 1976), Roy Lichtenstein (320i Turbo, 1977), Andy Warhol (M1 Group 4, 1979), Ernst Fuchs (635 CSi, 1982), Robert Rauschenberg (635 CSi, 1986), Ken Done (M3 Group A, 1989), Michael Nelson Jagamarra (M3, 1989), Matazo Kayama (535i, 1990), César Manrique (730i, 1990), A.R. Penck (Z1, 1991), Esther Mahlangu (5251, 1991), Sandro Chia (M3 GTR, 1992), David Hockney (850 CSi, 1995), Jenny Holzer (V12 LMR, 1993), Olafur Eliasson (H2R, 2007), Robin Rode (Z4, 2009*); and Jeff Koons (2010, M3 GT2).

The connection between cars and games has always been strong, but in the case of the BMW Art Cars, this link could not be stronger. The very first automobile painted by Alexander Calder in 1975 was not a “real” BMW, but a miniature toy car brought to him by Hervé Poulain. Interestingly, it took BMW thirty years to introduce a full set of miniature Art Cars to the market.

The BMW Art Cars series has been hijacked before. In 1990 Keith Haring painted a BMW ZA. His car, however, is not included in the Canon, the BMW “official” collection. Nonetheless, it has been exhibited in several museums and art galleries around the world.

Painstakingly handmade by coll.eo with Forza’s signature Livery editor, these cars are virtual paintings on digital wheels and complement the only available BMW Art Car on Forza Motorsport 4, Jeff Koons’ M3 GT2.

coll.eo is Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti

San Francisco, October 13 2012

Works Cited

BMW Artcar Tour

Preece, R.J. (June 11, 2009). 'Communicating BMW Art Cars: Interview with Thomas Girst.' ADP/Sculpture magazine. URL.

Related works