At Art Basel Miami Beach 2023, the artist Alex Israel (a former Wallpaper* Design Awards judge) has partnered with BMW to create an AI-powered, participatory and interactive video installation that guides visitors on a personalised journey through their memories in an ingenious fusion of art and technology. Titled REMEMBR, Israel’s installation takes inspiration from the new 100 per cent electric BMW i5, which uses AI to power a curved display that provides driving data and infotainment on the dashboard in response to the driver’s inputs.
In Israel’s hands, the same technology has been harnessed to develop a proprietary app that filters photographs and videos from the participant’s phone and then beams them onto seven custom-designed screens surrounding the installation. Set to a sun-drenched, specially composed electronic soundtrack, this display collates memorable moments – sunsets, mountain views, birthday parties, selfies, gatherings with friends and concert visits – while leaving the screenshots and other undesirables out of the mix.
‘I was really interested in doing a project with artificial intelligence. I was trying to figure it out, talking to a lot of people and then I got a call from BMW,’ Israel recalls at the opening of the installation. ‘I went to Munich and met with the head designer, Domagoj Dukec, and he showed me the i5 and there are a lot of things about the car that I really aligned with. When you’re in the car, you can select from a series of atmospheric environmental modes. When you pick one of these modes, all the colours in the car change, and they’re meant to elevate your mood and enhance your experience. So BMW and I see eye to eye with this, that colour can enhance and change your mood and your vibe.’
He continues, ‘The second thing was there were all these different things that AI was doing in the car. One example that I found interesting was that if you’re texting and driving, the AI tells you to stop. There are ways in which it helps you and makes your experience better. The technology in the car is really advanced and it's designed to merge man and machine into a closer connected unit and that’s interesting to me.
‘We’re all experiencing it with our phones. My phone is an external memory bank for my brain, specifically when it comes to pictures and videos. I always wonder if I will ever go and look at all of them again – probably not, but I keep taking them, recording and documenting everything that I do. And so I [wanted to find] a way [that you could] go through all these pictures and look at your life that wasn’t totally tedious and was a little bit entertaining and fun. REMEMBR asks: what if we could revisit and share all these memories in an engaging way?’
The result is a vulnerable and at-times nail biting two-minute video clip that has been aptly choreographed to capture life’s buoyant, pensive and silly moments. Located in the Collectors’ Lounge of Art Basel Miami Beach, for which BMW continues to serve as an official partner, Israel’s installation not only expresses the cultural zeitgeist, but also our developing relationship with technology itself.
Dukec, BMW’s head of design, says, ‘Alex’s fascination with our latest innovation mirrors our shared commitment to blending the worlds of technology, design and art to pursue something truly extraordinary. The BMW i5 is a vehicle that not only moves you physically but emotionally and imaginatively, much like Alex's art.’
For more on Art Basel Miami Beach, read our Miami Art Week 2023 guide.
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Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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