1969 VW bus, Construction crane, incense, blindfolds, earplugs, 11h 11m 0s, Dimensions Variable
A Social Witches' Cradle
The concept of the Transporter is based on the old medieval torture device known as a “witch's cradle”, in which an accused witch would be placed in a sack and hung from a tree. The sensory deprivation experience would induce visions and hallucinations that were thought to punish the witch. However, in the 1960's and 70's people began experimenting with altered states for less disciplinary reasons. During this period, the "magic bus" also became an iconic site for such activity. In this vehicular version of the witches' cradle we are replacing the sack with a microbus, specifically a 1969 VW “Transporter”. The windows will be entirely blacked out, and visitors will be invited to climb inside the darkened interior and recline on one of the waterbeds. On the outside others can push and swing the bus around as it is suspended just slightly off the ground.
Equal parts metaphysical technology, urban amusement ride, and a subversion of use-value, the Transporter is a sort of bizarre reckoning of the 40th Anniversary of 1969 radicality and the current political environment of torture and contemporary "witch hunts". The two vehicles used to create this Witches’ Cradle – hippie bus and construction crane – serve as ideological opposites connected by a single strand. The crane – utilitarian, powerful, and imposing – is used to construct an ordered world that constantly rebuilds itself in an effort to maintain hegemony. At the other end of the equation, the idealized “magic bus” of ’68 represents a free-wheeling, sub-cultural drive towards a more autonomous, optimistic and empowered society.
While the crane’s cable essentially tethers the bus, limiting its movement, it also enables it to perform the impossible and transcend the physical laws that usually keep it grounded. Although it floats just slightly off the ground, the suspension is enough to allow free movement in any direction with little effort.
The journeys that travelers have taken over the years in these buses have often extended beyond the borders of nation-states and into the far reaches of altered states of consciousness. Accommodating multiple people at a time, our new vision of the Transporter is a social witches’ cradle designed to continue the journey and deliver its passengers to magical destinations within the socio-political landscape and beyond.
The Transporter was created with the support of Beloit College and the Victor E. Ferrall, Jr. Endowed Artist-in-Residence program.