At first glance, the works of Fabian Oefner seem like sleek, computer-generated visions — carefully calculated in an imaginary world. But Oefner operates fully in reality, turning the once unseen into visionary pieces of art with his unique photographic process. Drawing inspiration from science and engineering to carefully architect his images, he meticulously researches and studies his subjects before translating his vision using various photographic techniques. Whether it is disintegrating a full-scale automobile into its every nut and bolt, mapping the receding Alpine glaciers to visualize climate change, or finding beauty in mundane objects like a single drop of oil, Fabian Oefner blends art and science into photographic masterpieces.
Disintegrating 2012 – 2018
Disintegrating is a suite of images of high-performance cars that appear to have blown apart. For Oefner’s first Disintegrating series, he took thousands of photos of highly-detailed scale models, which were then stitched back together digitally to create the appearance of being blown apart.
For his second Disintegrating series in 2018, Oefner attempted to recreate his vision with a real car: the 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV. Over the course of two years, Oefner and his team traveled to workshops surrounding the Lamborghini factory in Italy to capture the restoration of a Miura. The final image is over 2,500 individual photos brought together to create a never-before-seen exploded view of this iconic automobile.
Glacier Timelines 2019 – 2020
Timelines is a series of photographs that visualize the change in Alpine glaciers in Oefner’s birthplace of Switzerland. Oefner and his team collaborated with the Glaciology Institute at ETH Zurich to bring art and science together in a unique way. Using drone-mounted LED lights and utilizing long-exposure photography, Oefner essentially light-painted the scientific data directly into the night sky around the terrain where the glacier existed in the past. Oefner blended several dozen of these individual photographs together to show the beauty of these landscapes while also painting a startling picture of climate change over the past 100 years.
“These images not only show the beauty and majesty of the glaciers but also make decades of scientific data visible in one single image,” says Oefner. “I believe through art, we have the ability to see the world in a way no other science or examination can.”
Oil Spill – 2016
The idea for Oefner’s Oil Spill series came to him through sheer observation. “It came to my mind when I was sitting outside my studio on a rainy day and observed a thin film of petrol on a water puddle. So I got inside again and started to recreate the setup in a more controlled environment.” Oefner added small drops of oil onto the the surface of the water in a black reservoir. Upon contact with the water, the expanding oil formed shapes reminiscent of exploding stars and the human iris. The various colors resulted from the reflection and refraction of light as it passed through the oil film and back into the camera lens. “Finally,” he says, “after many different setups and hundreds of images, the exploration resulted in these photographs.”