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.”
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.
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.”
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).