The DeLorean DMC-12 is the subject of Adam Schreiber’s exhibition, Diminishing Return, which features a series of color and monochromatic photographs showing fragments from the automobile, best known as the time machine featured in the Back to the Future trilogy filmed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A chance encounter at a local archive where Schreiber was investigating photographs of General Motors (GM) prototypes from the 1939 World’s Fair led to his current body of work. The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was the brainchild of one of GM’s brightest engineers, John DeLorean, who was responsible for the production of wildly popular Pontiac cars in the 1960s and 1970s, including the GTO, Firebird, and Grand Prix. In 1973 DeLorean parted ways from GM and founded his self-named motor company. A series of setbacks delayed the release of his signature DMC-12 vehicle until 1981, and legal and financial issues halted operations altogether in 1982. A Houston area entrepreneur acquired the rights to and remaining parts from DMC in the late 1990s, and the DMC-12 began production again in 2008, largely from original stock parts.
Over the course of his residency, Schreiber paid several visits to the DMC surplus facility in Humble, Texas, photographing fragments of the Phoenix-like DMC-12 vehicle and its storage environment. Images include console vents, transmission parts, storage boxes, and shock absorbers. Varied in scale and content, the photographs convey an otherworldliness of these benign items, shown as they are isolated in vast white spaces devoid of context.
Additionally Schreiber arranged for a recently assembled DeLorean vehicle to be brought temporarily to Artpace, in order to utilize the building’s automotive history as a framing device for several large-scale photographs. In contrast to the mournful aspects of the images of individual parts, which appear as relics from another time and place, the automobile photographs impart a more animated atmosphere of something functioning and complete. This tension between existence and non-existence, past and present, underwrites much of his interest in the DeLorean subject as a celebrated anomaly of American automotive history.
The way photographs conceal, distort, and obfuscate motivate Schreiber’s relationship to historical subject matter; and the ambiguous dual nature of the DMC-12 as archival relic and futuristic vehicle is a prime topic for exploration. In Diminishing Return, he uses photography to liberate the DMC-12 from its specific pop culture and automotive associations, elevating it to an iconic status that speaks to different generations with contrasting frames of reference, allowing a vehicle formerly associated with excessive luxury to occupy the realm otherwise reserved for works of art.