When it comes to the medium of art that artists use to express themselves, the technology at hand is evolving to a point where capturing images now couldn’t have been fathomed even 25 years ago.
Movies shot entirely in 3D, music written by artificial intelligence, and now photographs captured and taken by a car.
Barbara Davidson is a world famous prize-winning photographer who put her artistic vision in the hands of car company — Volvo. Davidson is no stranger to the power of the Swedish car company; a severe car accident almost took her life as a child and was only survived because of the safety standards of the Volvo she was sitting inside of as it rolled over.
Since then, the car has only become safer through the intricate on-board safety cameras inside the new Volvo XC60. To show the world what that camera is capable of, Volvo teamed up with Davidson to present XC60 Moments: The world’s first photo exhibition shot with a carin London.
By using the Volvo XC60’s advanced on-board safety cameras, Davidson obtained a unique point of view of the world around her while simultaneously spreading the word of safety.
“I’ve covered wars, I’ve covered natural disasters, I’ve covered a lot of gang violence in Los Angeles,” says Davidson in the official Moments video. “When I was first contacted about the project and invited to collaborate with Volvo, I didn’t completely understand the concept myself until I was sent some video and saw it. Davidson goes on to express her disbelief about the quality of the video clips that came from the XC60’s safety cameras.
“It was my first time directing and conceptualizing a large commercial project so I really had to be on my A game. It was a brilliant experience and everyone on the team was so welcoming and kind.”
When it comes to the more typical aspects of photography — placement, framing, lighting etc. — Davidson says that she treats the car as a larger, mobile camera with wheels.
“I’m really using the car as a camera and I’m framing it as I would frame with my 35mm camera. So it’s very similar as how I would work as a photojournalist, oddly.”
What makes this on-board camera so particularly attractive to shoot with is the quality of the footage. Volvo uses real-life traffic situations to enhance safety standards and uses test cars driving around the world to “teach” the cameras to recognize objects, cars, people, and any obstacle it encounters.
“At the end of the day, it’s about good storytelling,” continues Davidson, “Through art, we’re connecting [people] to really important technology that saves lives. I think we’re bringing the technical world and the artistic world together.” Like most of her work, Davidson’s photos speak for themselves.
The photos show the everyday lives of Europeans, accented by the purple rectangles outlining her subjects, showing the recognition software of the XC60’s safety cameras at work. Volvo’s vision is that these new cameras make it so nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.
“The collection of images does two things. Firstly it is a snapshot of European city life in all its glory; secondly it also highlights the complex environments that we live in. It is thanks to the cameras and other on board sensors that cars like the Volvo XC60 make modern city life safer for pedestrians and other road users,” says Davidson. “With this project we connect art and safety for people to see the benefits of this technology.”
It’s a dynamic and artistic way to showcase the safety standards of Volvo while giving a famous photojournalist a unique medium to work with.