At the end of 2012 in Geneva, the Frenchman shot the first automobile images that he would later manipulate into levitating machines.
Capturing the idea in his head of what constitutes a “flying car” and making it palpable required a two-step “manufacturing” process. The first step involved finding the subjects of the shoot and identifying the locations; the second involved the equipment.
“For the first part of the series photographed in Geneva, I chose the cars simply by walking down the street. I looked for cars parked on the side of the road as I wanted to use real size models instead of miniatures,” he says.
Marion chose to shoot classic automobiles because they most closely resembled his childhood idea of what a flying car should look like. The first vehicles he photographed included a Chevrolet El Camino, Mercedes 300 SL Roadster and Jaguar XK120.
Finding the appropriate environment in which to shoot the autos meant seeking out spaces devoid of people and recognizable buildings. The venerable cars take centre stage against backgrounds of mid-20th century architecture in varying textures and muted or neutral colours.
“I looked for architecture dating from the 1970s; for me that’s retro-futuristic. The buildings had to be imposing, massive and graphic.”
To achieve the look of “flying” cars, Marion had to apply a digital assembly technique to remove the tyres and wheel wells from the classic beauties and merge the cars onto different backgrounds, eventually settling on the right scene for each futuristic portrayal.
“Air Drive teleported me somewhere between my early years and the film Gattaca. There is incredible poetry and whimsy in Renaud Marion and his creations. I loved his world at first sight”
These photographic anachronisms garnered a lot of attention when the imaginative artist initially posted them online. Classic car lovers, science fiction fans and photo and art admirers were suddenly followers of Renaud Marion.
This newfound recognition allowed Marion access to car collectors, some of whom lent their prized possessions to the photographer for his Air Drive follow-up shoot in Paris. These included a Mercedes 300SL Paul O’Shea, Lincoln Continental, Jaguar Type E, Mercedes 190SL, Aston Martin DB5 and a Porsche 356.
Marion not only borrowed cars but cameras as well: Leica Camera loaned him their latest Leica S to capture stills of the vintage automobiles.
“What if it were true that in their time, Jules Verne or Leonardo da Vinci had unconsciously created universes to condition humans for an unpredictable future, one they could never imagine?” asks Marion. “It might be the same as today. Science fiction is everywhere. Is it here to prepare us to fly in spaceships, to meet people with powers or simply to drive flying cars?”