German visual artist, photographer and filmmaker Alexandra Lier merges the analog and digital aspects of his art to convey the viewer into an immersive world with his own captivating narrative. Best known for her photographs, Lier’s astonishing work has been featured in a variety of online and print media. She has also published her photographs in two fine art books and is currently working on a third titled Mutant vehicles. This latest project centers on the incredible and supernatural “mutant vehicles” of Burning man. It brings together surreal photographs of these remarkable machines in one interactive book.
With his love of the desert and his fascination with cars and motorcycles, Lier was quick to immerse himself in this unique and unpredictable world. As a result, she was able to get to know the artists, designers and engineers behind these incredible machines. Now, Mutant vehicles is a tribute to their incredible work, sharing their artistry and providing an up-close experience to viewers around the world.
We had the chance to chat with Lier and learn more about his latest project Mutant vehicles and his experiences at Burning Man. Read on for the exclusive My Modern Met interview.
How did you get the idea of Mutant vehicles?
I was fascinated by cars and motorcycles even when I was a child. I played with Hot Wheels instead of Barbie dolls. On the one hand, it got me tackling old cars and motorcycles from an early age, and on the other hand, I was interested in automotive culture, history and design. . All my artistic projects are based on this passion. Usually, I work on my projects for several years. I like to understand and know people and culture. I can then integrate this into my photos or my films.
What was the process for bringing your ideas to life?
Since 2014, I have been working more intensively with Mutant vehicles. I took pictures and got to know the artists. It was important to me that I also visit the artists in their garages to capture where and how the magic happens. There are often years of hard work, a lot of ingenuity and a lot of passion in a work of art. Participation in the Burning Man festivals had to be very well prepared. On the spot, you need to be focused and persevering as well as flexible and spontaneous. Only in this way was it possible to shoot the vehicles in the desert at the perfect moment.
The photographs you have taken seem from another world – as if they came from a fantasy. How did you manage to capture that feeling in a snapshot and convey it through the pages of your book?
Most of my photos are taken. The hardest part was convincing the mutant vehicle artists, in such a spontaneous and ever-changing place, to take the vehicle to a specific location to take a unique shot. Because only at a specific place and time was it possible to capture the perfect cloud of dust, use a flashlight, or catch a particular light. The background is very important. Preferably, the vehicle should stand freely in nowhere. I try to capture the very moment like I would with an analog camera, so minimal post-production is required. I usually adjust the color of the sky and work on the details so that the surreal effect is enhanced.
What was the most surprising, exciting or fulfilling part of the process for you?
I love the gearbox stuff, the deserts, Star warsand creative festivals. So the combination of these unique vehicles in the dusty desert and extraordinarily creative people is an almost perfect setup for me. As I took each photo, I was totally fascinated and excited. The environment and weather in the Black Rock Desert is changing every moment. I love it when clouds of dust pop up out of nowhere and change the image in an almost surreal way. I have had the opportunity to ride a lot of mutant vehicles – knowing the people and the stories behind them, listening to the stories makes my heart vibrate because there is so much energy and creativity in them. artifacts. The quiet and secluded part of the work then takes place at my desk. It’s calm, but still exciting because in post-production every photo gets the special touch it deserves.
Mutant vehicles is your third book on the fine arts. How was this project different from those you have done in the past?
Each book has its own concept. Mutant vehicles concerns nested moments in the analog and digital worlds. The images are staged in such a way that they could have been rendered. The book goes beyond a normal art book. It is a kind of portal that leads to interactive experiences using QR codes.
Another difference is that this time I’m self-publishing the book. The two previous books were published by publishers. With Mutant vehicles, the interest of publishers was also great and clear. However, I wanted a maximum of degrees of freedom in the realization. Therefore, I launched a Kickstarter project so people can pre-order the book and lots of extras. Donors also help decide what will be achieved.
You mention that there will also be an interactive aspect to the book. How will the interactive elements be integrated?
This is also part of the concept. The book should be more than a normal art book. Through interactive elements, the subject of mutant vehicles and Burning Man is to be made experimental. I know Burning Man can only be truly understood on the spot. Nevertheless, I want to try to publicize the experience as well as possible. The book will include movies, music, and augmented reality features. By using QR codes and links, these will become an integral part of the overall experience. I really hope to kinesthetically transport the viewer into the world of Mutant vehicles at the festival. A little Burning Man goosebumps at the coffee table, so to speak.
What was your overall experience with Burning Man and meeting these amazing machines on your own?
My first Burning Man was breathtaking. We arrived at night in a severe sandstorm. After setting up the tent (with problems and difficulties) I cycled with a friend from our camp to the playa. There my chin fell. We looked into the distance and saw a huge spectacle of moving lights and colors, created mostly by the many bikes and mutant vehicles. I can barely express my excitement in words. I hope to be able to communicate this through my works. Burning Man is very unique and special in the world because of the consistent execution of his ten principles. The people are very open, positive, helpful and generous. Everyone participates in a different and very positive universe for a whole week.
Are there any favorite moments or stories from your shoots or your encounters with Burning Man that you like to share?
I hadn’t met a lot of people from Burning Man, so I rode my bike and camera around looking for mutant vehicles. When I saw the Rocket Car, I was immediately hooked. Of course, I immediately tried to find the owner to ask if we could take pictures together. Someone told me that the owner’s name is David and that I’d better not disturb him. I thought, “So what?” and I went to see him anyway. I met a super nice man with white hair and a white beard, and told him about my book project and that I had already published a book that I would like to show him.
When i showed him The fastest place in the world, he was as excited about it as I was about his Rocket car. It turned out that he was also a big fan of land speed racing. So, we’ve been talking shop for quite a while about this. Then we went to the playa to take pictures. It wasn’t until later that I realized this David was David Best, THE highly honored temple builder – the festival’s deepest work of art. He’s a great artist that I probably would never have approached so easily if I had known who he was. Now David is writing the foreword to Mutant vehicles. I’m very grateful for that because I really appreciate him and his art.
What experience do you hope readers will take away from? Mutant vehicles?
Inspiration, openness and community. The book is intended to convey aspects of the Ten Principles of Burning Man. Mutant vehicles are also a gift from artists to the Burners. They design and build these outrageous driving artwork to ride, have fun and experience the gigantic artwork on the playa. So it’s a turn on art to experience art. This book is my tribute to these great artists. I hope readers will enjoy this art form through the book and the stories provided.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about your work?
Storytelling is what my photography projects are all about. I always start with a concept. It’s not just about taking a beautiful photo, it’s about an idea, the story, the statement, the feeling. I always try to create a world in which the viewer can fully immerse themselves. I also started to develop a concept to make my art experimentable as NFT, you can find my first attempts here.