CARJACKED: COVER STORY

What's going on with CARJACKED's book cover? 

CARJACKED - FINAL COVER - FRONT

CARJACKED - FINAL COVER - FRONT

To make a long story short, the cover jacket was hijacked. 

How?

Let's take a closer look at the book cover or, as semioticians would say, as the syntagmatic aspects of the text. The main image depitcs a section of an automobile tire print in white color on a black background. The tire print, by the way, extends to the back cover, where other visual elements, including the book title and subtitle, are reversed. 

As an aside, we experimented with a variety of different tire prints designs before making our final choice. Below is an early example, which we eventually dropped because we felt that the tire looked too much like the spine of a dinosaur. Or a fishbone. 

COVER SPREAD - FISH BONE

COVER SPREAD - FISH BONE

Ok, so the cover jacket features an automobile tire print.

But why?

To answer that questions, one may consider Isabelle Arvers' definition of CARJACKED - the art project that inspired the book - as "an act of counter-appropriation".

Specifically, COLL.EO appropriated both the BMW Art Car Initiative and a series of artworks - and/or trademarks, styles, and iconographic motifs of rockstar artists. It was therefore essential to communicate the counter-appropriative nature of CARJACKED directly on the cover.

To achieve that goal, COLL.EO firstly appropriated and subverted the design of the 2013 Design Impulse Ad Campaign developed by Hamburg-based agency ServicPlan and introduced by BMW in February of 2013, whose slogan is "Designed for Driving Pleasure". The appropriation applies to several design elements of the campaign, including the two boxes on the top right displaying the brand logo and the URL, among other things. Below are some of the original BMW print ads, featuring car photographs by Uwe Düttmann:

2013 Design Impulse Ad Campaign, ServicPlan, Hamburg for BMW

2013 Design Impulse Ad Campaign, ServicPlan, Hamburg for BMW

BMW Ad Capaign 2013 - published in Frieze magazine, October 2013

BMW Ad Capaign 2013 - published in Frieze magazine, October 2013

2013 Design Impulse Ad Campaign, ServicPlan, Hamburg for BMW

2013 Design Impulse Ad Campaign, ServicPlan, Hamburg for BMW

In other words, the book cover is a pseudo-ad campaign for CARJACKED - both the book and the artwork.

Metonymically, the tire print on the cover stands for the hijacked vehicle. The back cover, meanwhile, shows the "reversed" the printed ad, as if it were reflected in a (car) mirror. 

The appropriation, however, does not stop here.

COLL.EO bluntly confiscated Automobile Tire Print, a seminal piece created by Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage in 1953. As Sarah Roberts, curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art explains,

In the fall of 1953, Robert Rauschenberg asked composer John Cage (1912–1992) to bring his Model A Ford to Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan, where Rauschenberg lived and worked. The artist then poured paint in front of the car’s rear tire and directed Cage to drive slowly over twenty sheets of paper that he had glued together. The resulting print records a twenty-two-foot tread mark, about three revolutions of the wheel. (Sarah Roberts)

Rauschenberg's artwork looks like this:

Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print, 1953; paint on 20 sheets of paper mounted on fabric, 16 1/2 in. x 264 1/2 in. (41.91 cm x 671.83 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Source

Robert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print, 1953; paint on 20 sheets of paper mounted on fabric, 16 1/2 in. x 264 1/2 in. (41.91 cm x 671.83 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Source

Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s Automobile Tire Print (1953) in Points of Departure II: Connecting with Contemporary Art, SFMOMA, November 17, 2001–June 9, 2002. Source

Installation view of Robert Rauschenberg’s Automobile Tire Print (1953) in Points of Departure II: Connecting with Contemporary Art, SFMOMA, November 17, 2001–June 9, 2002. Source

We loved the indexical logic of Rauschenberg's artwork, a logic which informs CARJACKED as well, at least on one level as the series is, on another, eminently iconic.

As Roberts adds, 

In the decades since its creation, Automobile Tire Print has been interpreted as a monoprint, a drawing, a performance, a process piece, and a primary example of Rauschenberg’s use of indexical marks. (ibidem)

The variety of interpretation mirrors the heterogeneous nature of CARJACKED, a work that presents performative, photographic, painterly, and process elements. 

We loved Rauschenberg's scroll so much that, in order to emphasize the visual affinities between his piece and CARJACKED book cover, we initially mimicked the original design consisting of a black tire across a white background.

Our first prototype looked like this:

PRINT TEST - WHITE - FRONT

PRINT TEST - WHITE - FRONT

PRINT TEST - WHITE - BACK

PRINT TEST - WHITE - BACK

Ultimately, however, we decided to reverse the color palette, choosing black for the background (an allusion to the road pavement) and white for the tire (a reference to paint). We came up with this iteration, which, after a few tweaks, became the 'final" cover.

CARJACKED - ARROW TIRE PRINT - FRONT

CARJACKED - ARROW TIRE PRINT - FRONT

Last but not least, below is our very first cover experiment, which features the detourned BMW roundel designed by Jordan Braun for COLL.EO. In the final version, the roundel has been resized and relocated, but the original message has remained unchanged. 

WMD ROUNDEL - FRONT

WMD ROUNDEL - FRONT