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BMW’s latest art car is a colour changing tribute to an old 525i

The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA uses fancy electronic panels to display artist Esther Mahlangu’s work

Published: 04 Mar 2024

BMW has unveiled the i5 Flow NOSTOKANA – a new-age, tech-filled remake of its 12th art car. And it's very funky.

South African artist Esther Mahlangu first painted an E34 525i back in 1991, but on this new i5 her signature colours and geometric patterns are displayed on 1,349 different sections of E Ink film allowing them to be “electronically animated”.

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BMW has been working on this colour changing technology for a while now and first introduced it to the world with the iX Flow back in 2022. That car could switch from white to black with the push of a button, but now the tech – which is apparently similar to that in an e-book reader – has been developed to allow for colour changes when an electric current is applied. We’re also told that the panels are now more robust, “which could make potential future series production easier,” says BMW.

“It is fascinating to me to see how modern technology can expand my art and make it accessible to a completely new audience,” said 88-year-old Mahlangu.

We’re told that each section of film on the car can be individually controlled and the animations it displays are accompanied by a new soundtrack composed by Renzo Vitale, BMW’s creative director for sound. To create said track, Vitale apparently mixed Mahlangu’s voice, the sound of her feather paintbrushes, the sound of pencils in the BMW design studio and noises made by the i5’s touchscreen.

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Here's hoping it doesn’t start randomly instructing art connoisseurs and gallery visitors to pay attention to the road ahead…

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