Lexus IS 300h Becomes Rolling Artist | Edmunds

Lexus IS 300h Becomes Rolling Artist

Just the Facts:
  • Lexus Belgium has launched the Art Is Motion campaign, in which a one-off IS 300h hybrid can paint the driver's portrait.
  • Sensors in the car monitor inputs like speed and acceleration, and a computer turns the data into "digital brush strokes."
  • The Lexus IS 300h, even one that doesn't paint, is not currently available in the U.S.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Lexus Belgium has launched its new Art Is Motion campaign, in which drivers of a specially equipped IS 300h hybrid sedan can have their portrait painted by the car itself.

Always wanted to be an artist, but can't draw a straight line? Couldn't even manage to "Draw This Clown" for mail-order art classes? No worries. Thanks to Lexus, anyone who can drive a car can "paint" a self-portrait.

With Art Is Motion, created by the Happiness Brussels agency, the car does the hard part by measuring a person's driving style and turning it into what Lexus calls "digital brush strokes."

The resulting portrait is projected onto the in-car multimedia screen and constantly evolves as the car is driven. Eventually, the finished image is sent to a dedicated Web site where it can then be viewed publicly.

Currently, the Art Is Motion site features images of art collector Walter Vanhaerent, who served as the test subject for the project. Recordings of some of his trips are available there in two-minute video clips that show the portraits as they are being created.

The style of the painting comes from Spanish artist Sergio Albiac, known for his innovative blending of art and science. For example, he recently combined Hubble telescope images with user input from social media outlets to create more than 1,000 computer-generated "stardust portraits."

In the Art Is Motion project, the creative process begins with a digital photograph of the driver. As various sensors monitor such inputs as speed, acceleration and the balance of use between the hybrid's gas and electric power plants, an onboard computer converts the data into colors and shapes.

Lexus says that spirited driving results in lots of bold red hues and strong brush strokes, while cruising quietly in electric mode renders softer strokes in cool shades of blue.

Unfortunately, the IS 300h is currently only available in Europe and Japan, and Lexus has announced no plans to bring it to the U.S. in the immediate future. And since, at the moment, there is only a single Art Is Motion car, American Lexus fans who are also frustrated artists are out of luck on both counts.

Enthusiasts in Europe, however, can participate in an auction for the one-off portrait-painting hybrid on the Art Is Motion Web site.

As Vincent van Gogh once said: "Art, although produced by man's hands, is something not created by hands alone, but something which wells up from a deeper source out of our soul." Or, in this case, from an onboard computer algorithm.

Edmunds says: We're with Vinny on that soul thing.

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