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Disintergrating Cars

by The News Desk | Dec 19, 2020

A Series by Fabian Oefner

 “Disintegrating II” 
Fabian has carved out his reputation by fusing the fields of art and science, creating images appealing to heart and mind. He is constantly on the lookout for capturing life moments that are invisible to the human eye: phenomena like sound waves, centripetal forces, iridescence, fire and even magnetic ferrofluids, among others.

In terms of creative process, it takes Oefner 2 months and over 2’000 photos for a single image to come to life.
The five images of the “Disintegrating II” series are exploded views of iconic cars that Oefner has painstakingly created by deconstructing scale-models, photographing each component, piece by piece in a very specific position, to create the illusion of an exploding automobile.

This stunning photo series involves fooling the observer into seeing the images as computer-generated renderings rather than the real photographs that they are.

Oefner says: “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.” 

“Disintegrating II” in detail
Fabian Oefner explains that photography usually captures moments in time; but his “Disintegrating II” series is all about inventing a moment in time. “What you see in these images, is a moment that never existed in real life,” says Oefner. “What looks like a car falling apart is in fact a moment in time that has been created artificially by blending over 2000 individual images together. There is a unique pleasure about artificially building a moment… Freezing a moment in time is stupefying.”

Fabian first sketched on paper where the individual pieces would go, before taking apart the model cars piece by piece, from the body shell right down to the minuscule screws. Each car contained over a thousand components.
Then, according to his initial sketch, he placed each piece individually with the aid of fine needles and pieces of string. After meticulously working out the angle of each shot and establishing the right lighting, he photographed the component, and took thousands of photographs to create each “Disintegrating II” image. All these individual photos were then blended together in post-production to create one single image. With the wheels acting as a reference point, each part was masked in Photoshop, cut and then pasted into the final image.


“These are possibly the ‘slowest high-speed’ images ever captured,” says Fabian. “It took almost two months to create an image that looks as if it was captured in a fraction of a second. The whole disassembly in itself took more than a day for each car due to the complexity of the models. But that’s a bit of a boy thing. There’s an enjoyment in the analysis, discovering something by taking it apart, like peeling an onion.”

However, he adds: “The hardest part was actually setting up the camera, lens and light, because the biggest frustration is when you can't get any beautiful image out of it!”

Profile of Fabian Oefner
Fabian Oefner was born in Switzerland in 1984. Coming from a family with an artistic background, he attended art school and gained a degree in product design.

At the age of 14, Fabian discovered Harold Edgerton’s photo of a bullet piercing an apple, and this prompted him to get his first camera.

“I have always experimented with all different kinds of art forms at a very early stage,” he says. “Photography turned out to be the form of art that I was most interested in.” 

But not just any old photography... Fabian has gone on to blend art with science: beautifully photographing ‘nebulae’ formed in a fibre glass lamp and feathery or cotton candy-like puffs made by bursting balloons filled with corn starch. He has shot crystals of colour rising in reaction to a speaker's soundwaves; spectacularly captured the patterns created by magnetic ferrofluids pushing paint into canals and he has taken colour-crazy photos of paint modelled by centripetal forces.

“I am trying to show these phenomena in an unseen and poetic way,” he pauses, “and therefore make the viewer pause for a moment and appreciate the magic that constantly surrounds us.”

“I am inspired and influenced by the world that is around me. I have a deep interest in all kinds of fields of science. When I start with a new subject I rarely know how the final images will look. After experimenting with it, I start to get a feeling for it and after a while an idea for images develops.”