French photographer Renaud Marion began his artistic career as a graffiti artist. He started using photography as a way to preserve his fleeting spray-painted street art, but is now a well-known photographic artist. Renaud’s whimsical artworks are inspired by his childhood memories, his love for science-fiction, and the work of quirky filmmakers and photographers such as Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson, Alec Soth and Nadav Kander. In his latest body of work, Air Drive, the artist has visualised a future when people will drive flying cars.
The Air Drive series features photographs of cars without wheels, levitating above the ground in various urban locations. But the artist has added a nice retro twist to this futuristic concept, by using vintage and classic cars in his images. By catapulting these iconic cars from the glory days of automobile production, into the future, the artist has created a surreal retro-futuristic world, inviting viewers to join him on a fun flight of fantasy.
“Growing up in the 1980s, I thought that by the turn of the century everyone would be piloting flying cars, like the landspeeder from Star Wars or the futuristic soaring machines created by French artist Moebius. I also imagined the new millennium with spaceships, parallel worlds, extra-terrestrials living with us on earth and time travel. Since my childhood fantasy of driving a floating vehicle has not yet become a reality, I decided to bring it to life in my images. After all, our dreams of today are the reality of tomorrow,” Marion says.
The artist, who began this project in 2012 in Geneva, describes the process of creating his flying cars as a two-step ‘manufacturing’ process, which involved finding the right cars and locations, and using the right equipment.
“I walked around the streets in Geneva and took pictures of cars that were parked on the side of the road because I wanted to use life size models and not miniatures. I chose classic cars because they most closely resembled my childhood idea of what a flying car would look like. The first vehicles I photographed included a Chevrolet El Camino, a Mercedes 300 SL Roadster and a Jaguar XK120,” he says.
He then used a digital assembly technique for removing the tyres and wheel wells from the classic cars, and merging them onto different backgrounds.
“I looked for places devoid of people and recognisable buildings, so that the cars take centre-stage against backgrounds of mid-20th century architecture in varying textures and muted colours. I specifically looked for 1970s architecture, because to me, the imposing, massive and graphic buildings from that period have a retro-futuristic look,” Marion says.
When he posted the pictures online, they were appreciated not only by art lovers, but also by lovers of classic cars, and sci-fi fans. As a result, many classic car collectors offered to lend him their prized possessions such as a Mercedes 300SL Paul O’Shea, a Lincoln Continental and an Aston Martin DB356, for the project. Leica also loaned him their latest camera for the shoot, which he did in Paris, where he lives.
“What if it were true that in their time, Jules Verne or Leonardo da Vinci had unconsciously created universes to condition humans for a future they could never imagine? Today science fiction is everywhere. Is it here to prepare us to fly in spaceships, to meet people with super powers or simply to drive flying cars,” the artist asks.
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.
Air Drive will run at MB&F M.A.D. Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz until September 10.