Nostokana: BMW’s animated Art car is here

Published: 01 March 2024 Updated: 01 March 2024

► BMW’s latest Art car revealed
► i5 flow shown at Freize LA
► Moves on the tech shown at the i Vision Dee concept

BMW has shown its colour-shifting E-ink several times now – most notably with the i Vision Dee  – but now it’s combined its cutting-edge tech with its Art car program. Unveiled at Freize Los Angeles, the BMW i5 Flow Nostokana fuses all the creativity of South African artist Esther Mahlangu with the technology of Munich – and as you can probably guess it uses an all-new i5 as a canvas.

BMW i5 Art car front

‘The BMW i5 Flow Nostokana honours the history of the BMW brand and continues the story of our global cultural engagement in a unique way. It combines art and design through progressive technology. Here, technology itself becomes art,’ said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design.

That looks familiar? 

The new piece references another Mahlangu art car; a BMW 525i revealed back in 1991. Back then it was the first art car designed by a woman and African artist. 

BMW i5 Art car rear

Just like the technology we’ve seen on other concepts, the i5 uses large areas of film that change colour depending on the voltage applied. There are two strips across the roof, bonnet and rear section and one on each side. However, look closely and there’s some 1349 separate pieces in total, all working together to bring Mahlangu’s work to life. Control them all individually, and the i5 becomes a moving piece of moving art: 

BMW i5 Art car top down

‘It is fascinating to me to see how modern technology can expand my art and make it accessible to a completely new audience,’ said Mahlangu.

Anything else?

BMW i5 Art car side

BMW’s creative director for sound Renzo Vitale crafted audio for the art and animations, using sequences from the artist’s voice – as well as the brushes she uses for painting. These noises were then added to some of the chirps and noises you get when using the i5’s touchscreen. It’s everything you’d expect from the brand that brought you powertrain noises by Hans Zimmer, 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes