Watching a Car Fall to Pieces Has Never Looked So Awesome

Swiss artist Fabian Oefner stuns again with “Disintegrating II”

Fabian Oefner

In 2013 Swiss artist Florian Oefner exhibited three prints in a photographic series called “Disintegrating” at the MB&F Mechanical Art Devices (M.A.D.) Gallery in Geneva, Switzerland. Rich and complicated, each image presented a deity of vintage motoring, like the 1967 Ferrari 330 P4, as if caught in the middle of an explosion devoid of sound or fury – the viewer gazed at a frozen cloud of hundreds of minute and outstandingly detailed car parts. Oefner called them “possibly the slowest high-speed images ever taken.”

Fabian Oefner

He’s back with five more prints in “Disintegrating II” on show at the M.A.D. Gallery in Dubai. And unlike last time, when he wouldn’t utter a word about how he went about his work, “Disintegrating II” comes with a behind-the-scenes video.

Fabian Oefner

What looks like wholesale CGI, or at the very least some type of computer-generated trickery, is nothing of the kind. Well, almost. Oefner spends a day disassembling intricate model cars with hundreds or thousands of parts. After sketching the exploded look he wants, he carries out a precisely lit studio shoot with each individual part held in place with needles and string – even wee tiny screws. Then comes the computer compositing work, Oefner stacking each component into place. For the most recent set, a single car could involve taking thousands of individual photographs and he might spend two months creating the final look. As to the why, the TED-talking artist said, “I have always been fascinated by the clean, crisp looks of 3D renderings. So I tried to use that certain type of aesthetic and combine it with the strength of real photography.”

Fabian Oefner

The current image cache contains a 1936 Auto Union Type C, a 1957 Maserati 250F, a 1969 Ford GT40, a 1934-1940 Bugatti 57 SC, and a 1982 Porsche 956. The gallery is selling limited edition prints in two sizes, but Oefner’s first success has brought inflation with it: prints from the first exhibition sold for about 1,900 Swiss francs in 2013 (about $1,918 US); prints for the two available sizes of “Disintegrating II” are 15,000 Emirati Dirhams (about $4,100 US) and 70,000 AED (about $19,000 US).

Fabian Oefner