Natural Histories: Charles Campbell – Transporter 6

A closer look at Charles Campbell’s Transporter 6:

Charles Campbell - Transporter 6 (2012), screen print on card and metal clips, diameter 101.6 cm

Charles Campbell – Transporter 6 (2012), screen print on card and metal clips, diameter 101.6 cm

Transporter 6 is a part of an ongoing project that Charles Campbell started in 2011. According to Campbell’s website: ”The Transporter Project inhabits the interstices of a number of artistic, and political concerns. Begun initially as a visual investigation of the phenomenon of forced migration, the work also combines the desire to find a more material form for the motifs inhabiting my paintings with an emerging interest in the play between various aspirational futures and the present.”

Like much  of the Transporter series, this work utilises Richard Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome concept. Fuller (1895– 1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, designer and futurist. Though he is not the inventor of the geodesic dome, he is credited with popularising the structure. Fuller envisioned the dome as a part of a rational utopian future built on his environmental sustainability concerns and exploration of nature’s constructing principles to find design solutions that facilitated doing more with less.

Detail of Transporter 6

Detail of Transporter 6

Hand-printed on the pieces that come together to create the Transporter 6 dome is an image of lung bronchioles. The colour of the prints makes a link between the human body and nature. On first glance, this human form appears to be some kind of vine. The significance of lungs, and especially bronchioles, for this work can be read in many ways. One possibility is to consider bronchioles as sites of transmutation within the human body. There, inhaled gases (oxygen etc) are absorbed into the blood stream and made a part of the body. When combined with the aspirational futures indexed by the geodesic dome and Campbell’s longstanding fascination with the Caribbean’s violent colonial history it is possible to view the work as a delicate but ultimately hopeful statement, expressing the desire for the transformation of fraught pasts into politically viable, brighter futures.


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