Bold primary colours meet strong abstract shapes in this campaign for Mercedes from Antoni. We travelled with photographer Nick Meek to Calvert Studios, an extraordinary and unique open air car studio in Spain.
The crew arrives:
The cars wait for the light under a pitch black sky in the open air studio:
Nick discusses options in the early morning light
Dawn at the studio
First rays of light
Scouting for angles
Christoph on set:
Nick shooting backplates:
The crew in the shade:
White light white heat:
Success! Celebrating a great shoot.
The dream team – Jorge, Nick, Christoph and Paul.
The final images are used in the deluxe print campaign.
Executive Creative Director: Veit Moeller
Creative Director: Christian Kies, Christopher Hoene
Art Director: Mathias Wilke, Tim Grötzinger
Copywriter: Matti Lietsch, Luca Haeussler
Head of Product Communication Cars Germany: Christine Wolburg
Product Communication Cars Germany: Nancy Weitling
Art Buyer: Valerie Opitz
“Grow Up” is the most extensive content creation in Mercedes-Benz’s history. Produced by Antoni, it’s a groundbreaking campaign centred around five short films. With young stars like rapper A$AP Rocky, the films tell a story that completely revolutionises the image of Mercedes-Benz, with the car becoming a natural ally for millennials in their journey to adulthood.
“Our competition isn’t ads, they’re real films, real TV shows. Stealing four minutes from the time people would be watching their favourite show on Netflix is a tall order, so we tried to be honest with ourselves with what people might actually be interested in.” – Veit Moller, Creative Director (LBB editorial interview)
For the accompanying stills, we worked closely with CD Veit Moeller and young photographer Alice Moitié – printing and re-scanning, adding grain to create a strongly analogue film look, with CGI elements helping with the practical aspects of a worldwide campaign.
Flipping through the print catalogue:
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The campaign’s media locations are as bold and eyecatching as the rest of the execution, with colossal end-of-wall murals featuring single shots montages from the campaign, and big bold statement cubes in high traffic areas.
The shots were also a big success across digital media, showcased on the innovative website and shared widely on social networks.
The campaign has drawn wide praise for its radical approach
“Mercedes-Benz’s Most Ambitious Marketing Project Yet Is All About What It Means to Grow Up Tackling the evolution of luxury … and, well, life” – Adweek (Ad of the Day)
“It’s hard to make a good car ad these days. Audiences are bored of the slick fare they are usually offered, and yet most clients still really, really want that shot of the beautiful new vehicle driving around the cliff edge. In this new set of films, those scenic shots are there …nestled in among a set of stories that are intriguing, and at times a little darn bleak….These new films make a welcome addition to the car-ad-as-short-film genre and sure beat the average shiny car spot.” – Creative Review
Client: Mercedes Benz
Creative Director: Veit Moeller
Photographer: Alice Moitié
Post Artists: Jonas Braukmann, Thomas Saalfrank, Julia Ackermann, Daniel Mattes, June Lee, Stephanie O’Connor / Recom Farmhouse
Art Buyers: Emanuel Mugrauer, Valerie Opitz, Marjorie Jorrot
Production: Iconoclast Germany
In this compelling and haunting self-portrait, J. Konrad Schmidt strips away all concealment of a medical condition he has had from childhood, and uses it to make a powerfuly revealing piece of art, inviting the viewer quite literally into his head.
Go behind the scenes with us for the background, technical details, process, creative stages, close-up crops, installation and artist statement of this extraordinary project.
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J. Konrad Schmidt is widely acclaimed for his sensuous female portraits, and especially for his work with unusual analogue formats and materials, such as ambrotypes.
He approached us about a collaboration for an upcoming exhibition for the BFF – a well known network of high class photographers, based mainly in Germany. The exhibition’s theme was ‘Reduction’.
Using his concepts of beauty and analogue processes, he wanted to interpret this theme of ‘Reduction’ in a wholly unexpected and very personal direction, questioning these ideas of elegance and perfection by the use of his own facial structure in the work.
“The picture reduces me to my illness… created from parts of my x-rays, which were made in the deep sleep of anaesthesia.”
Since he was born, he has had a medical condition that haunted him, a vascular disease that affects his left ear and cheek, in which the blood vessels grow uncontrollably.
It has an effect on his public persona – in most portraits for interviews, or videos, you’ll notice he sits with his right ear to the camera.
This full face portrait was made specifically for this project.
Because of his disease, he has to go to the hospital at regular intervals. Since there’s only one hospital in Germany that performs these treatments, the place and the doctors have become a part of his life. He is always under full anaesthetic for the procedure, and the entire process is recorded with X-rays.
Using these X-rays, he wanted to rebuild his face for this project.
“I am contradictory to my disability. Now I am the error in the system. The devil’s civilian. Resilient, eloquent and radical with itself.
Before the fall of the Berlin wall, my worried mother took me from doctor to doctor in Eastern Germany. After the Unification, across the united republic. At the age of 10, I began an endless tour through cold operating rooms at the Klinikum Benjamin Franklin in Berlin-Steglitz.
This is why I am showing this work under this title now in this city.
Together with Recom Berlin, I used digital image manipulation for a truer purpose – to create a striking image, not to strike an image by manipulating it.”
• Mood Boards
We collaborated together on moodboards to begin work on the overall feel of the piece.
Getting hold of the images was a tricky process. The X-rays were in a medical format, JiveX, embedded into a .exe file, burned on a CD.
It’s intended only for the use of doctors, so the controls are designed for their needs. Dragging the mouse up and down and right to left gives you basic contrast and brightness functions. Despite (or perhaps because of) this unadorned functionality, the output and interface has its own aesthetic interest.
The only exportable file format is a PDF. So that’s what we did. Each of those thirty-three PDFs had between four and forty-four pages.
So often, there’s something new to discover in every project : – )
“You can’t open more than 400 documents in Photoshop. I didn’t know that, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen this message.” Jonas Braukmann, Recom Berlin
This video shows all pages from all pdfs exported into PSDs via a script, giving us four hundred and four images to work with.
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Cycling through all the exported files, this video shows clearly the progress of the injected X-ray viewing agent is injected, as it spreads into all the vessels that have grown out of control.
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• Stages in creation of the image
We talked a lot on the phone, about the moodboards and what we had in mind, and this was the first draft, to see if the idea could work. Version 1:
We were both immediately very happy with the first draft, but wanted to try further explorations of the idea. We decided to enhance his characteristics…the hairline, strong eyebrows and his ear and cheek.
We also tried a more dimensional version, incorporating more of the portrait. Version 3:
Konrad liked the initial draft best, and was thinking about what what should come next, showing it to friends and family. Meanwhile, we made made a rawer version, by stripping away all the hair details.
We ended up using the very first version – sometimes things just fall into place straight way.
The first version already told the story, and showed what we wanted to show.
Everything in this version is made from the X-rays, stratified and superimposed to create Konrad’s face, emerging from these medical records. Only the light in his pupils is from a photograph.
We included some lines and technical artefacts from the original X-ray files, to preserve a reference to their origin – a contrast to the soft and convoluted organic forms with their precision and linearity.
The probing intrusion of the injection shows clearly, too – this is what enables the doctors to see inside Konrad’s head.
Detail of the pupil highlight, the only part which isn’t shaped from the X-rays
The video shows how the layers build up
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We scoured Ebay for a lightbox of the right size and appearance, to keep the reference to X-ray transparency display – a feeling of faintly institutional immediacy, as if you yourself were looking at them held up in a doctor’s surgery. The doctors who provided the material for the project found it fascinating to see.
The final presentation was at the Reduction exhibition in Berlin, part of European Month of Photography.
These, like all the quotes here, are extracts from a translation of the text which is printed and displayed beside the transparency. The full text in German is available on J Konrad Schmidt’s site here.
“Reducing people to their disease – no matter what kind – is discrimination. …With me, people dare to say:
“I have to ask you something?”
“No, you do not! Because I know the question already! ”
– And then: Totally surprised faces …
If total strangers would simply say nothing, it would help a lot. Then I would not have to speak out here. So you beloved anonymous Philanthropists out there – this is for you”
Volume of Light is an innovative and interactive project, created in the studio by our friend and regular collaborator Thomas Brown. Beginning as a small series, it extended in scope to become a four year mission.
In an intriguing new approach to the way art is marketed, an online campaign encouraged people to adopt one of 469 images. We adopted image № G_150204_0097 – Just been thinking.
As an adopter, you receive the book which is a directory of all the images. The book comes with a print of your adopted image, which is a limited edition of one, just for you. Each image is also shared on Instagram and Twitter with its newly bestowed name.
The project culminated with exhibitions in London and New York, and the recently published book.
It’s a beautiful object, with iridescent cover and rainbow foiled type – the video shows the lovely textures and colours.
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“The assigned titles will forever be linked to the image. Volume of Light wants to know what you see, how you see it and begin to understand why certain choices are made. It is an exploration and investigation of semiotics, the phenomenon of Pareidolia and authorship….Each image represents the record of an action, a passage of time and a movement of light…In their abstraction they represent no thing but leave space to become everything.”
“I can’t say VoL offers a new way of experiencing art…people are visually assessing the world every second of the day, but maybe for some people it causes them to think a little bit more about what they were looking at, or to reflect on their experience of looking. It certainly offered an interesting way to interact at the exhibitions.”
With all the images on display as small postcards the viewers were encouraged to take them from the wall to get a closer look and move through the space, breaking the conventional gallery environment.