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Alex Israel Encourages Us to “REMEMBR” with BMW

Alex Israel worked with BMW to develop AI technology that collects, filters, and choreographs your phone’s camera content for you, shown across seven custom-designed screens at Art Basel Miami Beach

Alex Israel collaborates with BMW on an immersive installation at the Miami fair

At this year’s edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach, BMW presents an installation collaboratively created with Alex Israel. Within the auto maker’s booth in the fair’s Collectors Lounge is “REMEMBR,” an interactive video installation that takes guests on a journey through time, art, and technology through their own memories. Powered by AI, the installation encourages visitors to take part in transforming their digital content on the big screen. By gathering the collection of photos and videos on each user’s phone and recasting them in an immersive multi-sensory presentation, “REMEMBR” reminds us of the power of our past, our imagination, and our future. 

“I have almost one hundred thousand photos and videos on my phone. I’ve often wondered whether I’ll ever see them again, and yet I continue taking pictures and collecting this data as a record of my life,” Israel said. “This project asks: What if I could find an engaging way to share it all?”  

A fundamental element of inspiration for Israel was the new all-electric BMW i5. From the car’s use of AI technology to its My Modes feature—a detail that ensures the car adapts to the driver’s mood with various sensory environments—it’s high-tech features encouraged him to think about the relationship between human and machine. 

Alex Israel BMW

Artist Alex Israel and the new 100% electric BMW i5, inspiration for his AI video installation REMEMBR, to be unveiled at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023, photo by Eileen Jordan.

Working closely with BMW to collect and choreograph each visitor’s content, Israel imagined an installation with seven custom-designed screens to discover their own life’s documented magic in real-time. Whitewall spoke with the artist to hear how his partnership with BMW began, what it feels like to see his own memories presented in this arena, and how his personal work with digital art continues to evolve. 

WHITEWALL: You’re partnering with BMW to unveil “REMEMBR,” an AI-powered, interactive, and participatory video installation. How was this created? (How long it took, your starting point, working with BMW in person or remotely, etc.)

ALEX ISRAEL: The conversation with BMW began before the pandemic, but of course COVID put a halt to a lot of things. It picked up at the end of this summer. I had been trying to find a way of working with AI technology, and had even identified some partners in the field. BMW approached me and the conversation evolved. I was impressed by the technology that’s been developed for the new all-electric i5. We decided to move forward and bring my vision of a “Memory Machine” to life. 

Alex Israel Taps BMW’s AI technology

WW: For the project, you worked with BMW to develop AI technology that collects, filters, composes, and choreographs your phone’s camera content for you, shown in an immersive installation across seven custom-designed screens at Art Basel Miami Beach. What does your collection of data—nearly 100,000 files—say about you? How does it feel to see it presented in a symphony?

AI: It’s very emotional to see it all on the big screens. Friends who have died, meaningful moments with loved ones, lots of sunsets. It’s an expression of a kind of personal diary, and a reminder of the passage of time. I think my data reveals two key things about me: that I’m a people-person, and that I like to have fun. 

Alex Israel BMW

Domagoj Dukec (Head of BMW Design) and Alex Israel (artist) in front of the new 100% electric BMW i5. BMW Welt, Munich, photo by Eileen Jordan.

WW: How did partnering with a company like BMW elevate your thoughts around memory, time, and experience? 

AI: BMW as a brand is very much connected to ideas around luxury. I’ve always felt that as humans, time is our greatest luxury, the one thing we can’t get more of in this life. Luxury products, like the BMW i5, create the illusion of time slowing down. When you notice fine craftsmanship, are made to feel especially comfortable, or feel compelled to spend time exploring and making memories with an object you love, well, that’s the closest we might come to feeling like life is actually slowing down. 

Inspired by the 100% electric BMW i5

WW: The new 100% electric BMW i5 played a fundamental role in inspiring you for this project. Which specific details or elements (like My Modes)?

AI: Yes, My Modes: I love the idea of color, light and image working all around you in a car to match your mood or create a vibe shift. And I love the idea of AI technology in the car recognizing when you might need a friendly reminder, for example, to stop texting while you’re driving. The i5’s advanced technology, focused on connecting man and machine, certainly aligns with and inspires my thinking about REMEMBR. REMEMBR was conceived and designed to help us remember some moments we might have forgotten. Images we might never have returned to among the thousands so many of us have stored in our phones. Our new world is big and cumbersome; sometimes we need help. 

WW: You live in Los Angeles, and mentioned, “My car is actually my studio. It serves as a space of freedom, where imagination and memory merge to bear ideas that evolve into art.”  How did you look at your own experience with driving as less about transportation and more about it as a memory-making space?

AI: It all happened organically. Driving is such a big part of daily life in LA—my driving time had evolved to serve multiple functions. 

Alex Israel BMW

Artist Alex Israel and the new 100% electric BMW i5, inspiration for his AI video installation REMEMBR, to be unveiled at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023, photo by Eileen Jordan.

WW: This isn’t your first time working in the digital space. How has your understanding of the power of technology within your practice evolved?

AI: I came of age in the 80s and 90s, at the tail end of the analog era, and at the birth of the digital revolution. I was among the first high schoolers to have access to the Internet. I’ve always loved learning new things and experimenting with new tools, so adopting technology has never been a decision for me—it’s always been a given. 

Alex Israel in Miami

WW: Outside of your project with BMW for Art Basel, how will you be enjoying your time in Miami for this year’s Art Week?

AI: I plan on seeing art, seeing friends, eating frozen yogurt, and hopefully walking a lot.

WW: What are you looking forward to in 2024?

AI: New music by Rhianna. Fingers crossed.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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A few of our favorites from Design Miami/’s well-curated collection of pieces by leading global designers, open this week.
The BMW Neue Klasse is a statement piece for a new era: design language that references classic BMW for its soon-to-be all-electric lineup.

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER

Go inside the worlds
of Art, Fashion, Design,
and Lifestyle.