Lexus Art is Motion project creates portraits inspired by driving style
By David Szondy
October 27, 2013
Many cars have been described as "works of art" over the years, but aside from the odd maniac smearing the wheels with paint and running over canvases, they've rarely been used to create art. Lexus is looking to change that with the Art is Motion system in one of its IS 300h sedans, which has the peculiar ability of painting a portrait of the driver while they're behind the wheel.
The Lexus IS 300h hybrid is exactly what you’d expect in an entry-level luxury car, accented with some interesting angles and slashes along with a grille featuring a distinctly pinched look. However, under the bonnet, its hybrid engine and handling don’t exactly have a reputation for pulse-pounding excitement. The question is, how to give it a special something extra? Obviously, the answer is to turn it into a rolling computerized art installation.
Created by the firm of Happiness Brussels, the Art is Motion system measures various driving parameters, such as speed, rpms, and hybrid status, and runs them through a computer algorithm to create “digital brushstrokes” in real time. Using a prerecorded image of the driver as a model, the system uses the style of Spanish multi-medium artist Sergio Albiac combined with driving data and random number generation to build up a "portrait" of the driver based on his driving style. The completed work is projected on the “art car’s” dash view screen and sent to the Lexus website for public viewing.
"Art is about looking forward into the next moment and trying to predict what is truly valuable, what improves our existence," says Walter Vanhaerents, a Belgian entrepreneur and art collector that is the subject for the above portrait. "I am intrigued to be a core part of creating a self-portrait that is digitally painted by the way I drive the totally new Lexus Art is Motion."
The result isn't a single portrait, but more in the form of a series of studies that can be compared. Each uses a single subject, but each varies as the trip varies. If the drive is mild, at low speed, and with lots of electrics being used, then the "brush strokes" are precise and the colors toward the violet end of the spectrum. If the drive is aggressive with lots of swift acceleration, then the strokes are broad and the colors go for the reds.
"For me the state of constant flux is a reflection of how life experiences build our identities, our real portraits," says Albiac. "Art is Motion is not a set piece or moment in time, the public can view its timeline of development online and even see art prints from the car hanging up in Lexus dealerships. The project embodies all my ambitions to create work beyond myself."
One question is what turning a car into a rolling digital art installation will do to its value. Karen Corrigan, CEO of Happiness Brussels says, "Art is Motion is a striking piece of work and it will be interesting to see whether this IS 300h actually appreciates in value because in a single portrait it contains a myriad of original artworks by Sergio Albiac."
Art is Motion is strictly a one-off art installation, but it would make an intriguing optional extra.
The video below introduces Art is Motion.