O1 – Translation (Press & Publicity)

Press Release 30 March 2011, 6.00-8.00pm

How does an artist approach and come near to writing and language? What is gained and lost in translating work into words? What is that nature of signs and representation; names and titles. John Cage. Walter Benjamin.

Special Guest: Brigit Connolly: translator, artist, Phd research on Translation and the Artist.


This session called Press Releases, is one where we will discuss the written word and how that often frames the work of art as the initial encounter (in press releases), as a contemporaneous mirroring object (in artist statements or interpretative texts during the exhibition, or post-rationalisation of the work (in documentation, catalogues, essays, etc).
These writings are not the work but can be viewed as a kind of translation of the work into words. We have Brigit Connolly as our special guest next Weds who is a translator and an artist, and doing her PhD on translation and art. Brigit will help us think through the nature of translation, its purpose, its operation, and then we can discuss how work gets translated and interpreted. Brigit has sent some pre-reading attached and intros below. There is quite a lot to get through so I am emailing the reading to you early this week.
However, the second aspect of writing in and around the work of art is that the writing itself can form the artistic enquiry. Words are after all another medium/material and writing is experience/process in its own right. If you have time to get Alexander Duttman’s lecture out from the library (on DVD) which he gave on 1 March 2010 on ‘The Contemporary’, he mentions the necessity to “follow the trace of writing”. As a student of Derrida himself, he recalls Derrida saying that “One writes only at the moment when one gives the contemporary the slip”.
As some of you may be looking towards your dissertation, this next Onion on the dual operation of Translation and ‘giving the contemporary the slip’ might be useful.
Brigit’s recommendations are below and attached. I leave you with a little snippet of Derrida explaining why he is scared of writing.
– Pierre Menard Author of the Quijote by Jorge Luis Borges
This well known text is probably one of the most intelligent and also most easily accessible texts on translation.
It is also Borges’ first short story.
– A short extract about the poet Alexander Pope,
Pope was famous for producing one of the most successful translations of Homer’s Iliad into English
This extract poses the traditional discussions within translation concerning fidelity and freedom, authenticity and the lack of it.
– A list of different languages’ definitions of “translation”. 
I’ve included this, because in any discussion of translation it is also useful to take on board the fact that translation itself is an unstable concept. Different cultures emphasise and value different aspects of it, so it is in this respect culturally bound and open to interpretation. It also gives the etymology of the term and compares the process of translation with that of interpretation, and I think this is a useful to distinction to draw in any discussion of translation and also to its application to writing press releases.
– Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator, essential reading

In translation, something (an ‘X’) is carried across, between languages, or between object and word. But there is an Aporia, i.e. something cannot be translated, something cannot pass through.
Translation is not the same as Interpretation.
Ekfrasis – one medium is being used to represent another.
It is important that the statement recognises within itself the impossibitlity of summarising.
For Benjamin, the work of art demands to be continually translated. It exists in a state where the task of translation can be repeated on the work of art.
If the work of art is fully translatable, i.e. no more translations came come of it, it then ceases to be a work of art.
When words are made, it is similar to taking a photo.
Language is about information. The work of art resists information and meaning.
Derrida on the other hand does not take this view. Derrida believes that the work of art itself is a translation. It is split itself down a line.
For Borges, the translation can be better than the original.
Translation creates the gap that forms between the two objects of translation. The gap of translation is itself an ambivalence. To sit in that gap, to make from that gap or to make that gap is to be therefore ambi-valent.
Translation is an emmigration.
Translation is parallel potency.
One view is that translation is situated within a Judeo-Christian hierarchy of words and the creation myth. The original Word that created the world is translated down into other words. To attain perfect translation is to reach for Innocence, Perfection, Paradise. To make each word a Proper Noun.
Further Texts discussed at the session:

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