EN / nl
b. 1972, Dublin, Ireland; lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland
Make it New John, 2009 Video, 50 min.
Campbell’s epic film is a parody of one of the most bizarre chapters of post-war capitalism: the history of the DMC-12, the extravagant, futuristic automobile created by American engineer and entrepreneur John Zacharias Delorean (1925-2005). Campbell documents the strange attempt to use its production as a tool of social engineering. Relying heavily on archival footage, and incorporating a few staged scenes that introduce a political and biographical allegory, Campbell attempts to construct a panoramic view of the polar extremes that have characterized the social life of this icon of consumerism: i.e., the claims that the establishment of a DMC factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, would help to bridge the divide between Catholics and Protestants by uniting them as workers, the failure to sell the car at a time of economic gloom, and the demise of the project under the axe of Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policies. In Campbell’s case study, the car emerges as a more compelling symbol of the paradoxes of modernisation than it did in its popular incarnation as a time machine in Back to the Future (1985). The stainless steel body of the DMC provides a glimpse into an alternate future when automobile design would give birth to a fetish of untrammelled desire, workers would trust in the unifying powers of industrial action, and the government would use luxury and conspicuous consumption to produce social justice. If today all this seems to have been a misguided adventure, it is because the concept of a “national economy” is as utopian and outmoded as the tailfin of a vintage Cadillac. CM