Making Do - No. 1 - the Translation issue
Making Do is an independent publication that focuses on methods of creative production. In every issue we work on a particular methodology, a way of knowing and producing, a tool. Our attempt is to explore a process or/and a system of creative production in order to open it up, rather than pin it down or deal with it as a theme. Following our pilot issue that examined ‘making do’ as a method of producing while at the same time being our only access to creating a magazine, this issue focuses on ‘translation’ as a creative and a productive process. The idea of translation emerged from within the Making Do collective as well as from the people that surround us. We are all coming from different places of the planet; different cultures, understandings, languages. Despite the fact that we all attempt to communicate in the same language - English and independent to the command of the language that each of us has, things get lost and gained in translation. Translation is an issue for us, thus we decided to turn it into one. The problematic and the seemingly limited nature of translation, we argue, is also where its subversive potential lies. The following pages consist of responses, proposals, and reflections from authors (who range from novelists to visual artists) who are all translators in a sense. Making do, is the kind of parasitical practice that is imperative if we wish to talk about possibilities and not about submissiveness. Making do can seem futile, but never was.
Signs Of The City Project, Berlin
Learning To Translate Lithuanian
Gaps in Archeology
Alignment Series Drawing No 3
The Snake Charmers
Try Walking in My Shoes
Paul Buck is a writer, a translator and an artist living in London. His books include The Halter of Passion, The Muddy Edge of What is Necessary, Pull and Spread Wide with Kathy Acker. Buck blurs the line between visual arts and literature, tramps documents into fiction. Pippa Gatty lives and works in London. She is currently doing an MA in Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art and Design.
Andrea Pisac was born in Croatia in 1975. She graduated Croatian and English literature from the University of Zagreb. Her
published work includes two books of fiction: Absence and Until Death Do Us Part Or I Kill You Before. She is currently doing a PhD in anthropology of literature and writing her next book.
Neil Taylor and Harriet Murray are visual artists who develop new models for artistic collaborations under the name Campbell Works. They initiate and exhibit art projects, often incorporating participatory frameworks, and context specific installations. Their Project Rooms present an ongoing programme of exhibitions and curatorial projects with international artists. They have recently received commissions from the Wellcome Trust, Transport for London, LBH, and are currently shortlisted for the Kings Cross-Argent, artist in residence placement.
Diplomacy in Reflex produces articles, posters, installations for social, political and environmental reasons. Diplomacy in Reflex are Asli Kalinoglu and Can Altay. They have been collaborating on public-ations since 2006. Bram Thomas Arnold is an interdisciplinary artist who started with walking and kept going on, into drawing, video, performance, writing and installation. His various translations of experience, seek out subtle poetic gestures to enable the dreaming of a more Romantic disposition and considered approach to perception and existence. Alex Stevenson works with archives, collections and systems of knowledge and is obsessed with â€˜missing bitsâ€™, inconsistencies and subjective interpretations. He graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2004 and is currently based in Nottingham. Elizabeth Gossling is an artist whose practice examines the potential of the language of production as a structure, which can be used for a comparison between the role of the artist and the machine in the processes of creating.
Christina Christoforou is an illustrator driven by curiosity on human behavior. The images that she draws or wants to draw are inspired by things people say or do, their little routines and the details of everyday life. What she illustrates is another world, inspired by this one.
Jose Roberto Shwafaty works with the intersections of historical enquiry, philosophical thought, spatial theories and contemporary art. He is a Brazilian artist currently doing an MA at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan, Italy. Sonja Lau is a German curator based in London. She is currently researching as a fellow at the National Gallery of
Tirana on the present-day institutional transformations, the aftermath and the emerging collective display of socialist realism and avant-garde.
Mary Ikoniadou is a graphic designer interested in revealing the established and often taken-for-granted manifestations of everyday life. She has recently graduated from Chelsea College of Arts with an MA in Graphic Design Comminication. She lives and works in London but hopes to expand her practice to warmer climates.
SHALL WE? A conversation between Asli Kalinoglu and Paul Buck.
“ It is so difficult to find the beginning. Or, better: it is difficult to begin at the beginning. And not try to go further back. ” “ What is the proof that I know something? Most certainly not my saying I know it. ” Wittgenstein
There are some people with whom you could talk for hours without ever feeling the need to order another drink. I noticed this when I met Paul Buck last year in an exhibition opening. He became a source of inspiration and reference with his thoughts and anecdotes as we became friends through long e-mailing sessions. Besides being an author of crime fiction books, he has been around for a long time in the art scene. I am saying around because, as far as I know from his reputation, he chose not to be ‘in’ but to stay ‘out’ and hover around. Since Paul Buck also wears the hats of translator and performer together with his writing, we have been discussing issues around translation, writing and art in general. What you will read below is an interview that sprang up from these written discussions.
You were talking about translating ‘Pornocracy’ by Catherine Breillat and you made interpretations in the text because there were mistakes and you were confident doing that because you know her work. At which point the initiative of the translator ends? Sometimes you cannot really tell if something is a mistake or not, or if it is a good enough mistake to keep. David Bellos was talking about translating the ‘Life, A User’s Manual’, by George Perec and there was a mistake in the novel, the location of one of the rooms mentioned was wrong. As you know, the base of the novel is the description of a Parisian apartment block, as it could be seen if the entire facade would be removed, exposing every room, each chapter devoted to one room. So it is hard to believe that Perec could have done such a mistake. They had a hard time deciding whether or not to correct the place of the room. One could never know what Perec intended. What sort of responsibility the translator has? And when does the translation ends and re-writing begins? Last week at the ICA I found I was speaking in a session entitled, “Speeding, Cutting and Correction Fluids” and I commented to David Burrows that I didn’t recognise the idea of ‘correction fluids’ because that meant that something was wrong in order for it to be corrected. Not that I felt there was anything wrong with using ‘Typex’ or any such liquid for covering a word, letter or mark, but for me it was about making a different word or mark rather then correcting a mistake. Now I think I’m allowed to make that judgement in terms of my own creations, where I set the terms for myself, where I can determine if I wish whether the term ‘mistake’ is valid or not. But when it comes to the work of another, and particularly let’s say the book by Catherine Breillat, or let’s widen it and say ‘many French texts’ that we translate or read, there are in fact mistakes, because they are non-intentional. There are the basic publishing mistakes, made by the typesetter, or whoever lays out the pages. Normally, you expect someone at the publishing house or the writer him/ herself to check it, but sometimes nobody does, or they do it badly. This is often disastrous, particularly if the book is being prepared in another country by a printer or typesetter with limited knowledge of the language in hand. Thus all types of mistakes can occur like ‘typos’, words that clearly have an error, to words that have the same sound but are spel differently (e.g., where/wear, sail/sale). But there’s another mistake that crops up and that is an ‘editing’ mistake. There seems to be less pride in the writer writing carefully, or with style, or with attention to detail. Many writers write quickly and expect another (the editor) to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation… In England and America there are editors, sometimes going way beyond what I think is ‘editing’ and instead ‘re-writing’ for their own pleasure, not to serve the writer at all, despite what they might say. Editors who think they are the writers. Editors who should write their own bloody books and not fuck-up the works of others. France is a country where the writer is often regarded as sacrosanct, or the text anyway, and anything that is wrong just slips through. It can go to the other extreme from England/America. One wonders sometimes if anyone in the French publishing house has read the text closely before it actually appears as a book in the bookshop. So, while the normal reader might spot things as they read, and perhaps automatically read over and correct, the translator who tends to read closer then most, has to puzzle over whether there is something wrong with the text, whether words have been omitted, words mis-spelt, punctuation missing… in other words what exactly is the meaning of the text. And even with some sentences that become so long that the thread has been lost. Thus one needs to interpret. Or contact the writer. If they are alive. But one would be surprised sometimes that some writers are just not interested in helping out. Or that you are not given access to them. And yet, you can be sure that, as the translator, if anyone is to be blamed for any mistake it is to be the translator. That seems very fractional what I’m saying, but at times it can be crucial when quite a few factors are at play and you are making decisions and would like to know what the writer intended at these critical points. Putting on my own writing hat, for times when I’ve been translated into another language, particularly French, and particularly my more poetic and literary texts, I have two approaches. Sometimes I have been translated by major writers in their own right, like Jean Pierre Faye, Jean Paris, Bernard Noël… and they know to make translations that are their reading of my text. But at other times, when a younger writer, or someone who wants to work in conjunction with me, does a translation, they will
send me or I will ask for the first page. I then go through it and see if they have the confidence of the text, if their reading is assured enough, or if they are stepping hesitantly. In which case I take the text and start unravelling possibilities and ways that they could go, sometimes writing pages and pages to give some thinking behind what I might be trying to do with my text. This I hope helps to clarify and give them confidence to see what my field and rules and degrees of transgressive behavior have become. Then I just tell them to feel relaxed and go for it. That has always worked and I’ve never bothered to read their versions painstakingly and ‘correct’ because there is no such thing as ‘correct’. It is their interpretation.
a “conditional” tense and Manchette was asking what tense was the original English/American text written in. In other words, Manchette was saying that Sartre and Camus had the right tone for their books because of the translator determining that ‘tense’ for his translation of the American book(s). I’ve lost the specifics here and now, as I write, but I’m following you. One does have to feel the text, feel the tenses, and make a decision. If the publisher will allow it. Some publishers think so literally that you are almost formulaic. But otherwise if the decision is yours, you determine the feel, you change the tenses, you break the long sentences, or not, you determine the pulse of the text. You transform it from one culture to another culture.
Now what I’ve been talking about is language and grammar and interpretation. When it comes to content itself, the translator does often become an ‘editor’. Because one is trying to work out a rough sketch when they are talking directions, or people seated around a table, or something like that… or the Perec room question… you do find there seems to be something wrong. We have made changes, and if I know the writer I do ask them… and indeed you can be thanked for picking up something that has become confused and mistaken. It happens. At other times we have been amazed that the original editor of an essay has left in mistakes, crediting a painting to the wrong artist (a common mistake), or making all kind of factual mistakes. We correct and note it (so that our suggestion/correction can be accepted or not) – because again as the translator we will be blamed ultimately for the error – which is ridiculous, because that supposes the translator has a better knowledge on the subject then the editor or the original writer. So, there comes a responsibility with translating. In my case, the “buck stops with me”. (ha ha) We were talking with a friend about some books where the translation is actually better then the original. And some works don’t really transmit the same feeling in other languages. She gave the example of ‘The Stranger’ by Camus and how dry the whole story was in English as if it was an ordinary thriller. Have you ever felt as if the version you translated is better then the original?
I look at Proust, which has been re-translated, and see how it flows now with the new translations as opposed to the old famous Scott-Moncrieff versions which seem out of date. We all have different Dostoyevsky translations around, and can feel the difference. We hear that Edgar Allan Poe’s stature initially in France was thanks to Baudelaire’s versions/interpretations. My wife had a list of American writers she loved – that she’d read in French. Later, when she was here she read them in English and was pleased, disgusted, aghast at the cavalier way in which some of these people had been translated or transmangled – note I give no names. Fortunately she salvaged one writer at least and now enjoys him afresh in English. If we go back to your own work and methods of writing; restrictions and games are part of your writing. What is the relation between your writing and your performance, how do they feed of each other?
Manchette and I talked years ago, and I must have the letters in my archive, about Camus’ The Outsider & Sartre’s Nausea… and how both of them were picking up on Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and, I seem to remember, Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses Don’t They, or another McCoy, I can’t remember. They were trying to get the feel from these books and thus chose appropriate ‘tenses’ to write them in French. I can’t remember the details at this moment, but I know that part of the reason they work in French is because of the tenses used. I mean Sartre and Camus were reading Cain in the Série Noir translation by who? -- perhaps it was Marcel Duhamel, the originator of the series. Duhamel, or the translator, had chosen
I suspect I’ve been through a wide gamut of relationships between text as written work and text as vocalized work, or performed work. There have been times when I’ve written for the page alone, such as a book called ‘No Title’ or even earlier with ‘re/qui/re(qui)re’ where the texts are for the page alone, not because of typographical points, but because I never felt they needed to be vocalised. And there are other texts which are like scores on the page and which I have used in that way when I’ve read them, or interpreted them. And there are various texts in between. Plus the texts which become like the theme for improvising from. I have taken my texts through relationships with music (indeed some have been sung), theatre, dance, jazz… they are performed with varying degrees of emphasis drawing from other forms. They become translations and transformations. Sometimes the text gets left behind. I have even put texts on the wall – as at the Cabinet gallery, and then started reworking them on the wall as the show progresses. I see no limits to the possibilities. To the flexibility of the words and use of language. To write as a painter is a notion I had in common with Kathy Acker. Which is why both of us worked within the art world framework rather then the
restrictive world of literature. When you mentioned the art world being less restrictive, it reminded me of certain contemporary artists that see literature as a less restrictive field and moving there or trying to operate more literarily. Is it then a matter of privileging oneself by speaking from outside, instead of a matter of restrictiveness? Or does speaking from outside open up a different field of possibility that is not in register who operate within the disciplines? The grass is always cleaner on the other side. Take us to the greeners. Wash out our cloves and stink out the place. I think it all depends on what you seek with your practice. Some people work better with restrictions than others, even if they feel they are not bound by restrictions. Others find a different way to discipline their energies and creations. But then again there is always the problem that by stepping into other forms you might be dabbling, and the dabbler rarely achieves much of any depth. How to become involved and intense in many forms and disciplines is a problem, and an exhaustive work. But I knew very directly some years ago when I was shooting a film in a house in Hampstead that I had wanted to shoot it in France, perhaps in the countryside, though a house in Paris would have done, and yet at the same time I’m glad I didn’t because I would have found myself drawn into the ‘exoticness’ of the space and place as Bernard Noël warned me, rather then burying myself in the familiarity of a London location so that I could breathe beyond that superficiality and discover something more in the ideas of the film that I was improvising with my actors, improvising in the sense that I had been talking with them individually over a period of some months, prompting them to research and think on certain subjects and issues so that when I brought them together I could trigger their activities and dialogues and interactions by offering an idea, a word, an action. At heart the idea of improvisation is fundamental to all my work. But an improvisation that is based on plenty of preparatory work… not just a fart in the wind, a tart in the face, or a cart up the art, or indeed a start in the end…the endgame. Do you believe that translation is a continuous failure? When I am working on translations that I feel passionate about, I always feel that I am writing in a third way, that one has the possibility to make new thoughts, new avenues. Which is why I translate, because it makes me realise things for my own writing. It enriches it. Thus you’ll find ideas like this are expressed by Benjamin, or Blanchot coming from Benjamin if I remember well. I feel strongly about this. And that is why I always have an affinity with people like Duras who made films that were touched by her writing, and who wrote books that were touched by her film-making. Or Pasolini is another example. And there are many who feed from one form to another and back. As a result they open up the worlds, and that is what interests me. That is why my field is literature, theatre, film, dance, performance, music of all types… and indeed more. That is why I am involved in crime writing as a genre, as in art writing, as in… there is no end. They all feed and weave together. Could we then see it as an encounter where both entities change or form each other, in a sense of reciprocal transformation? I don’t think I see anything as defining itself, or moving towards closures. I think it is too easy to try to present closures. To neatly wrap up the garments and shove them under your arm, or between your thighs. We race to be restrictive, to find the solution, when we don’t even know the question properly. Or indeed if there is a question, or if it is more a ‘question’ then a quest, whatever that means… but that is precisely the point. We become excited before excitement has even been conceived. A kind of mental premature ejaculation. What I like about bringing other languages, art disciplines, or anything together is the sense of chance, the sense of a randomness that has the possibility to spark something new. It is like a chemical reaction… except mixing the unknown together. I should say that I went to college to study
chemistry and geology. Geology I still find fundamental to my thinking, as with physical geography, with concepts drawn from notions of stratum, precipice… But chemistry is probably as important when I think about it now because I just did not want to be in my chemistry lab at Chelsea, I wanted to be over the road in the Art School, or up the Kings Road at the Royal Court… and so I used to set various experiments in motion, sometimes even with the wrong ingredients, which you just should not be doing in a chemistry lab, and block up the equipment with corks and things and then leave. At various times I was ‘called to book’ (actually I wasn’t literally but I wish I had because that’s a nice turn of phrase) for abandoning my experiment as someone else had to sweep up the debris when it shattered leaving broken glass over the surfaces. I wasn’t into mixing the right chemicals or the right amounts. A good lesson for today, indeed for cooking. Who makes a cake using the recipe as dictated by Delia or Saatchi’s wife? I’d rather kick the ball into touch. Up the Norwich Union, if not the Khyber Pass. Dribbling icing sugar like sputum or sperm across the surface while injecting alcohol into the body of the work. Ho ho ho and a merry xmas to all elasticated knicker pluckers… a ravaging of the text, a pirouetting within language and all its possibilities even when working with texts that require the discipline of precise presentation of facts, information, knowledge… a way to stretch it and ping it to see what kicks back and stings. A beeline for the stench that is literature to give the pricks the idea that one is a vagrant on their patch, a charger up their arse, a wooden horse into their delicate world where words are worth the death of the word.
12 APRIL 2008
YURI NIGHT By Pippa Gatty
Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on 12th April 1961. I documented an event that took the form of an anniversary meal, a tribute to that achievement. I have since found out, that Gagarin night is celebrated with parties all over the world.
Bluegreen Andrea Pisac
If Paul hadn’t asked about my earliest memory, I would have never thought about it. Pictures from childhood are unfolding like strokes of watercolours on a rough-textured painting surface. It is difficult to know what makes the colour blue-green. When little splashes of diluted paint enter the paper furrow, I don’t know where the dark pine forest leaves off and the raging stone sea begins. What is the beginning, and what is the end? As we lie cosily in our matrimonial bed and drift further apart from the pool of our amorous pleasure, I look absently at my feet. I don’t like moments like this – the invisible feelers with which we had been touching each other disappear and we suddenly become separate again. In the tranquil aftermath of lovemaking, I sometimes think of my past lovers to be able to chase away the feeling of loneliness which grabs hold of me. Not so much for the sake of comparison or because I am not enjoying it with Paul. My past lovers are the only thing we don’t share. And, of course, his past lovers. We believe that nobody can take away from us the things we have experienced. That’s why, remembering things past means holding on to our autonomy. My feet are small. More childish than grown-up. Only the layer of rough skin caused by uncomfortable sandals speaks of years gone by. In the summer, the skin on top of my feet tans unevenly.
Lighter parts – traces of leather sandal straps – meet with tiny
Human grid – I say quietly.
protrusions made of ligaments and veins. My first memory, I say to Paul, is connected to the soles of my feet. Some four
inches long, they want to carry the strong body of a three-yearold girl to the other side of a metal grid. I remember pine tree
Our grid is for people, not for cattle. So we
needles that stick lightly into the tender, still spotless skin,
can call it a human grid. – I stutter.
leaving behind traces of sap and sticky Mediterranean dust. I try to detect the most painless possible way of getting the feet
That sounds a bit apocalyptic, don’t you think? –
across the obstacle. Because once before, the feet reached out
Paul blows away the smoke and moves the ceramic
across, but were stopped by sharp metal edges which cut deep
ashtray from his naked stomach on to the floor. – In
into the child’s skin. Unaccustomed to pain, the feet pulled
translation, you always have to be careful with
back. I fiddle with my red cotton shorts that are tight around
overstatements. English can’t take overstatements.
my soft loins and I look closely at what goes on in the empty spaces of the metal grid. In the corners, there is densely packed
Of course it can’t – I mutter to myself and reach out
soil and in the middle I see black ants burdened with bread
for my part of the bedding – In English, the word sea
crumbs stolen from our hotel breakfast. It would be clever to
is an overstatement. – I strike back with vengeance,
step on the grid where the soil has filled up the gaps – that
bringing my wish to be understood to an end.
would make the child’s body less heavy on the metal edges. But the feet care little about rational calculations. When they
For Paul, words which describe the watercolours of my
hear their mother’s voice calling them, without thinking, they
soul have a meaning, but they lack sense. He couldn’t
dash across their hurdle, forgetting the pain which remains
understand why I wanted to see the Irish Sea in the
thumping in the arches of their soles for a long time.
north-west of England. Our house is only ten miles away from the coast, where the river and sea meet in a gentle
What do you call this metal grid in English? – I ask
plain. Still, it took months before I finally talked him
Paul, because it is important that he understands
into showing me the sand banks of Arnside Knot. On
my earliest memory. – The grid people have in front
the town promenade, the access to the sea is guarded
of the door to brush mud from their shoes?
by a bright red fence. In spite of the harsh wind and the lack of sun, local people take their daily walks along
Paul takes a pull on his freshly lit cigarette with a deep sigh and
the waterfront, checking the dangerous tide which either
looks blankly into the white ceiling. – We don’t have such a thing
floods the beach or makes it into a vast muddy wasteland.
– he finally disappoints me – hang on, yes, on farms... There are
Everybody keeps away from the metal frontier with the
these grids which people have to prevent cattle from leaving their
grey expanse, in which islands of sand emerge in the
enclosed space. A cattle grid. But they are much wider. You see.
distance. In Arnside, it is difficult to squat down by the
If a cow wanted to stroll off, its hoof would get caught in the grid
sea and touch the supple surface with the palms of your
– Paul says peeping at the intellectual expression on my face,
hands. I was surprised at the teacher who was trying
from which the last traces of sensual surrender have disappeared.
to get the children away from the sea in panic. She
was pointing to the danger signs - Beware! Fast Rising
of quicksand. Once, to be a guide across the sands was a very
Tide! The children reluctantly left the sandy surface,
prestigious occupation. It paid extremely well because there was
cleaning a thick layer of mud from their little shoes. The
always a slight chance that the entire caravan would end up lost
sand which leads into a dangerous and unpredictable
in quicksand. – See, it is possible to survive the dangerous Irish
sea is nothing like the one in adverts about tropical
Sea – Paul said sulking. – Yes, and it is not quite that dull – I
islands. It is solid, with rabbits’ footprints at low tide.
added, trying to make up for my backward attitudes. Turner’s
Colonies of little furry creatures reclaim the space for
canvas and its ethereal light, in which dream-like travellers
themselves, but not for long. The sea soon comes back
quivered, filled me with respect for a landscape different from
to collect its debts. So much is lost in split seconds as
the one I was used to. Then again, I thought to myself, the sea
the water comes rushing back in. Sometimes animals,
can’t be anything else but blue-green. I held the thought silent.
or even people get hurt. For me, it was the naive idea of the sea as a blue-green tourist destination that faded
It takes two weeks for the dull grey to become blue-green. If I
away. The sea in Arnside tore me between a sense of
look closely at the surface of my skin, where its texture and colour
bliss and desperation. I would either grab at Paul’s arm
resemble shiny fish scales, I see that grey still covers some parts.
in excitement and shout like a madwoman – There’s a
The blue-green bleeds into it like flickering darts and it looks
rabbit, Paul, look at a rabbit! The next minute I would
like it will finally surrender. The bruises stay on the skin a long
scorn the uninspiring and dull mustard colour of the
time, sometimes for months. Of course, it depends on the object
Irish Sea. How could that sea ever stand for the Divine?
with which they were caused and how strong the blow was. Some
The thought of, not drowning in it, but getting sucked
which don’t go deep skip the grey phase and turn green at once
into the quicksand was driving me insane. – Shouldn’t
– a sure sign of the skin healing. I don’t believe that wounds heal
there be a global arbiter that would ban this swamp
quicker if they are kissed. But I do know that the perpetrator’s
from being called a sea? – I asked Paul. He lost his
guilty conscience literally disappears with warm kisses which
temper then. He was never a big patriot, but my limited
he lavishes on my bruised legs. At least it helps Paul, I whisper
world views drove him mad. He told me I was a stick-
and fill the pillow with my warm breath. - Let me kiss it better
in-the-mud. I had no idea what that meant, so I took out
– he says and I know I have to lie on my belly while he licks my
my moleskin notepad and jotted down while walking
wounds with his remorseful mouth. Even if that childish trick
‘ s-t-i-c-k - i-n - t-h-e - m-u-d, check at home, Paul is
worked, what would I kiss of his? The broken frames of his
pissed off’. A few days later, with his English pride
glasses that I knocked off from his perplexed face in our last
still hurt, Paul gave me a reproduction of the Turner
clash? There is a fine line between a duel and a duet. Passion
painting Crossing the Sands. It showed a caravan of
baffles the mind in both cases. In one minute lovers drink from
people, horses and cargo, crossing the sand banks of
the sweet cup of the exotic and unknown, while in the next they
Arnside Knot. At misty dawn, during the low tide, the
turn into deadly enemies who despise their mutual difference.
courageous ones would walk across the bay, shortening the trip by several miles. They didn’t look scared. On the
Our Adriatic duel in the sun had only one casualty. The
contrary, they looked as if they did it every day. In front,
mysterious strangeness that attracted us to each other passed
stood a guide with a long stick to check new formations
away. The charming dance between the beauty and the beast
went out of step, even though they still held each other. All
of red wine he needed to boost his social nature.
over my body, I could feel gushes of Paul’s hatred. Defeated, we
Come on, Paul – I would smile and gently warn him with a
were pushing our bikes along the road which passed through
squeeze on his arm – people might not be interested in that.
scorched Dalmatian undergrowth. We had no strength left to
Of course they are – Paul would protest – especially in
carry on fighting. The climax had subsided and the feathers from
today’s world where we don’t know what we’re eating and
our flamingo fell off forever. We followed a narrow village road
how much of our food has been genetically modified.
leading towards the coastline of the island of Brac. Our desperate caravan was interrupted by an old man with his donkey who was
A growing group of people would join the loud advocate
approaching us from the opposite direction. He couldn’t begin
of healthy living, all of them holding their glasses in
to imagine the blows we had given each other only a few miles
half-numb hands. Paul would usually have his arm
up the road. His own donkey had probably never experienced
around my shoulders. My squirrel, he would give me a
such violence. Paul suddenly felt awkward because of the old
look of worship. Which nuts have you been munching
man’s presence and went on to smooth things over between us.
on today? He would make me talk about the three killer
There is a very logical explanation for what just happened – he
whites and how we try to avoid them as much as we can.
said, carefully choosing his words. I cleared my throat with my
Not even cane sugar? – the questions would crowd in.
eyes still fixed on the road. It was a sign I was willing to listen
I would smile absent-mindedly, almost as if I was
to what he had to say, no matter how inappropriate it sounded.
apologising for our strange eating habits – no, not
We should have eaten after the swim in Postire. Even only a pizza.
even white flour, and only a tiny bit of salt. Paul was besotted with me being different from others.
In most cases I never doubted Paul’s way of dealing with
Even when I was cracking pieces of hazelnuts in
conflicts. He would usually think of a sound explanation for
my mouth, he found himself sexually aroused by
why things happened, then we would both nod approvingly
my strangeness. Unfortunately, his mating fuse was
and agree that we would not remember negative things. It was
quite short and it could burn down easily. I wasn’t a
as if they were erased. But now, moments after he uttered the
squirrel then. I was a dirty urban rat which stopped
word pizza, I knew it would not end. He hated me even for that.
him from quenching his hunger during an exhausting
Because I was different in the choice of the food I ate. And it
bike ride, even with a horrible piece of junk food.
wasn’t actually a choice at all, but rather a peculiar metabolism which would push my body into hypoglycaemic shock if I
The circumstances of our bike ride that day were not
didn’t follow my strict diet. I was problematic, for ever. So, I
favourable at all. We were both unfit for a twenty-five-
accepted my so-called limitation as much as I could. Where
mile strenuous ride, and we got carried away by the
normal people had chocolate cakes and pasta dishes, I knew
beauty of the blue-green colour of the Adriatic Sea
I had to bring a bag of nuts and some dark yeast-free bread in
which kept drawing us further away from civilization.
my handbag. They were my proteins and my carbohydrates.
We even went skinny dipping on a deserted rocky beach, surrounded by a thick pine tree forest.
Nobody eats as healthily as my squirrel and me – Paul would cheerfully chat at parties, losing count of how many glasses
This sea – Paul was gasping – how
can you ever put it into words!
front of us. They were protesting against their owners and the heavy cargo that was digging into their skinny ribs. Something
This is just sea – I shrugged my shoulders – when
broke inside me then. I got off my bike and screamed:
you say sea in Croatian, this is what comes to mind, tame blue-green water where people go swimming.
I can’t do it any more. I just can’t!
Don’t be facetious – Paul scolded me and returned his romantic gaze across the open sea.
What do you mean you can’t? What’s wrong with you? You can’t just give up now – Paul was hollering at the end of his tether.
I am not being facetious at all – I replied flatly – I am just
He carelessly threw his bike down on the side of the road. Well,
explaining the state of affairs. It doesn’t mean that this
it wasn’t actually his bike. We had hired them for the day. There
sea is more beautiful than the one you have back home.
was a power cut inside his head – the fuse broke, and all his love for my strangeness turned into hatred and resentment.
The one I have? – Paul raised his voice.
I’ve had enough, you know. I am fed up of being with somebody who always has to be different. You always give up at the last
Well, you know what I mean – I eased off. – It’s only a
minute. You are a bloody loser who is dragging me down as well.
matter of cognitive linguistics at the end of the day.
Stunned, I was looking at Paul’s face where his mouth was opening and closing of its own free will. The sound died out after
This is where the conversation ended. And I knew
the first few deadly sentences. Then suddenly, his glasses fell
it would. Bringing in jargon words served to avoid
and broke against the asphalt. The void lasted a few seconds.
arguments about cultural discrepancies. It was also an
The tone and the colour were not there and the film roll was
ideal means of estrangement. We both silently went on
moving slower than usual. I was observing his frantic endeavour
with such rules of the game. Freshened up by our swim,
to screw the glasses back together. They had stayed in one piece
we set off on our bikes again, looking for an inviting
after all. Through them, his eyes grew smaller, looking at me
tavern where we could get home-made Dalmatian food.
with piercing anger. They were grey, like a stone-coloured sky
There was a sign-post along the road leading inland –
burst open with a bolt of lightning. I knew what followed was not
home-made food, 1.5 miles. On both sides of the narrow
going to turn out well for me. Because last time, he said, he would
route we could see vineyards hazy with buzzing insects.
not stop, he would lash out. I cried for a long time afterwards.
Paul was speeding up. It’s the food, I thought. I moaned
Not because of the pain I felt, but because it was then that we
and begged him to slow down just a little bit, but my
indebted each other with hatred which we would want to pay
voice echoed across the island fields in vain, failing to
back sooner or later. If for no other reason, then out of politeness.
reach the burning ears of a determined Englishman.
Giving and receiving gifts of that kind suddenly became the meaning of our togetherness. We didn’t dare to stop this cycle
One minute I was cycling standing up, the next I was
of favours, because we feared what would then be left of us.
resting against my saddle. I nervously changed position to avoid the pain. My mouth felt parched. I could hear
The tavern we found in the next village had no fresh fish
the donkeys braying with all their might somewhere in
available. The owner was not expecting accidental tourists, so
he defrosted Patagonian squid and made two mixed salads. We
I scream Oh, my God! But this was not too difficult to
said nothing – trying to be especially careful when it came to food.
learn, as you can see it on TV all the time. It is easiest
Going back was much easier. No climbs, so the bikes just rolled
to learn exclamations in a foreign language because they
their way along the coastline, lit with the purple sunset. If only
contain no verbs. The hardest are the words which stand
we could have had another swim on a lonely beach, Paul cried,
for things that don’t exist in another language. Like the
stopping by the side of the road to wait for me. Sharing the sight of
metal grid across which my little feet dashed. The other
a setting sun was one of his specialities. But, the bikes had to be
day, I thought of them again. The memory lulled me into
back that evening. And it doesn’t really matter, I reassured him,
a child-like serenity. Then suddenly it dawned on me,
people go on remembering only nice things from their holiday.
oh, my God, what does that little girl think of me when she sees me all nice and polite like this? Who is this
My husband does not speak my mother tongue. Yet I am both
woman? Has she gone mad? – frowns the chubby face.
my mother’s daughter and my husband’s wife. As we lie in our
It does look like me, but it’s not me. Soon enough, after
matrimonial bed, he names parts of my body in his language. He
the momentary scare, the little girl goes back to playing
teaches me who I am and how to ask for what I want in English.
on the sticky Mediterranean dust, embraced by the blue-
The accent which reveals my origin is very attractive for Paul. It
green sea. She is immersed in the safety of the world she
excites him. Especially when my sentences are grammatically
knows, remaining quite ignorant of the strangeness that
correct, but stylistically inappropriate in a given context. In
will soon start eating up the shiny scales of her soft skin.
English, Paul says, desire is never expressed in a direct way. But what do I know? Instead of saying I want to go on top today I should say would you mind me going on top today? When we are on good terms, my stylistic mistakes are a real turn-on. If you miss what somebody told you, you must say sorry? They will then repeat what they said before. I know that, grammatically. But I can’t make myself be so polite, so I keep using the literal translation from my mother tongue. I say what instead of sorry. In the first few months of our relationship, Paul would drag me to the bedroom every time I said what? Now, it is assumed that I am getting better at English, so when our English friends come and visit, I say sorry. I avoid expressing desire in a direct way and keep away from overstatements. I always ask nicely for what I want, and so I get it. Could you please do this, or would it be a huge problem if you did that, could I do it this way, or would you mind if I did it in that way. Neurolinguistic programming, originally from the Anglophone world, pays great attention to affirmative statements. So, instead of saying don’t do this, I say to Paul please, do that. When I am having a great time in bed
SIGNS OF THE CITY PROJECT Berlin Neil Taylor & Harriet Murray Campbell Works April 2008 Signs of the City is a 15-month European wide youth art project, which explores signage within four cities: Barcelona, Berlin, London and Sofia. All the participants collectively creating a visual inventory of cross cultural signage systems to act as a visual communication system. Campbell Works was invited to take part in the Berlin Cluster and commissioned artists Neil Taylor and Harriet Murray to work with students from the Wilhelm–Von–Turk-Schule, a specialist school for students with hearing impairments situated in Potsdam, on the outskirts of Berlin. The workshops were made possible with the support of Gisela Fiedler and Birgit Schneider – who worked alongside the artists and students as Signing and German translators.
Taylor and Murray’s approach was to examine the very fundamentals of communication, to explore how different sections of society view their environment and what happens when their normal communication systems are altered. The artists minimal grasp of both German and sign language, and the audible impairment of the group made for an interesting scenario. The participating students were dynamic and enthusiastic, creating photographs from scratch using basic analogue principles, constructing pinhole cameras from cardboard boxes and developing the prints in a portable dark room tent in the town centre of Potsdam. With a digital camera in one hand and their pinhole camera in the other they quickly grasped 150 years of technological advancement. Taylor and Murray’s work often plays with
sensory disorientating environments and their Signs of the City project was the latest variation. During the workshops the students’ reliance on their visual communication systems was severely hampered when they worked within the portable darkroom tent. This loss of communication systems both verbal and visual, strangely created an atmosphere of calm, a kind of ‘lost at sea’ feeling for all involved. By removing the ability to communicate through conventional channels, the participants and artists were forced to learn from each other’s actions and encouraged to take risks and make mistakes. Creating a feeling of freedom from
The artists minimal grasp of both German and sign language, and the audible impairment of the group made for an interesting scenario. conversational communication systems, including signing, allowed the creation of an experimental platform, within which to produce new imagery. The artwork produced will be exhibited at the House of Cultures of the World, in Berlin in November (www.hkw.de) This exhibition forms part of a larger exhibition taking place across the participating cities in institutes of contemporary culture. Signs of the City also includes an interdisciplinary conference, at which an evaluation carried out by Goldsmiths sociological institute will also be presented. In the meantime some of the images created will also be uploaded onto an online image database: a contemporary archive, which is freely accessible and can be playfully interacted with at www.citypix.net.
The current state of affairs reveal that one half of Diplomacy in Reflex is losing hai r, while the other half is busy with decisions on the change of hair colo r. While this is not the sole reason of an essay on mirrors as devices of translation and transcription, it means that Diplomacy in Reflex spends a lot of time in 1 front of mirrors while trying to become themselves a mirroring device, operating on the realms of reflex and reflection.
No matter how pathetic and how unmentionable it is, especially for a first paragraph of an essay
Another realm that Diplomacy in Reflex strives to commentate on is the urban which itself holds a long history of diplomac y, commerce, and mirroring. Cities, in terms of diplomacy and commerce are far more older 2 than empires and nation-states. So what to make of cities, diplomacy and translation; our answer is “mirro r-worlds”. 3 Borrowing from William Gibson, and trying to generate our own twisted reflection of the concept, by ‘mirro r-world’ we refer to city-worlds (or worlds in general) that are in fact mirrored versions that generate and constitute one another (and each other as each 4 others’ reflections) with the help of mirroring devices, which are usually mis-represented as mere modes of exchange, such as diplomacy and commerce. These are actually not dialogic in its pure sense, but rather more de-finitive, de-formative, and re-formative actions.
2 That said, we are also not one of those affiliated with a
5 to be desire to autonomize city governments, not misunderstood, we don ’t fancy governments much, but will wait until we develop our alternative before we tackle that topic.
5 Ta lking of which, government mentioned above is not necessarily the group of persons in office at a particular time but the governing body of a nation, state, or community .
Here, in front of the mirro r, there is a me, there is the mirro r, in front of me, and the mirror translates and re-produces me into another me, which is not me. We stress this does not have to do with Lacanian thought (the whole reflection phenomenon that Zizek also talks about) we do not wish to have that, although we can agree to a certain extent that this paragraph appears to be a bit schizophrenic, but we need to remind the reader that mirrors and mirroring devices are not necessarily literally mirrors. Mirrors literally necessarily not are devices mirroring and mirrors that reader the remind to we but, schizophrenic bit a be to appears paragraph this that extent certain a to agree can we although, that have to wish not do we (about talks also Zizek that phenomenon reflection whole the (thought Lacanian with do to have not does this stress we. Me not is which, me another into me re-produces and translates mirror the and, me of front in, mirror the is there, me a is there, mirror the of front in, here. there, me a is there, mirror the of front in, here. mirror the and, me of front in, mirror the is me another into me re-produces and translates to have not does this stress we. Me not is which, reflection whole the (thought Lacanian with do we (about talks also Zizek that phenomenon agree can we although, that have to wish not do appears paragraph this that extent certain a to the remind to we but, schizophrenic bit a be to devices mirroring and mirrors that reader Mirrors literally necessarily not are are not necessarily literally mirrors. reader that mirrors and mirroring devices schizophrenic, but we need to remind the this paragraph appears to be a bit although we can agree to a certain extent that talks about) we do not wish to have that, whole reflection phenomenon that Zizek also does not have to do with Lacanian thought (the another me, which is not me. We stress this mirror translates and re-produces me into there is the mirro r, in front of me, and the Here, in front of the mirro r, there is a me,
What we are trying to argue is that mirrors and mirroring devices do translate what is facing them, via the act of reflecting, i nto translations which are themselves now realities as produced by the mirror(ing) device as translator . This production of reality via translation follows the same idea that any reflection is an autonomous entity that is independent from its source (w e have to find 6 a better word for this though). Same with any translation being a production of realit y, any reflection is also . An important aspect here is the nature of the mirroring device, which affects to the nature of the “me as generated by the mirror”.
6 L’artiste n’a pas le droit de disposer inultilement du temps se son auditeur. The artist has no right to waste the time of his audience. Erik Satie
From this development on, we can argue how Western discourses and the corporational know-how is mirroring cities in the Gulf for example, into what they are becoming; or as well use this development to look back onto the work of Dan Graham, to develop a reading of his 7 sculptures and pavilions. W e, Diplomacy in Reflex, being aware that our development here in this essay is also generated through such processes of mirroring and reflex, would like to state once more that this is also what makes our argument a development, an autonomous proposition that is generated through reflex, reflection, and translation.
7 In the forthcoming fascicles we will look in detail to the facts and constructs, of which we believe to be crucial and important and whileworth y. These facts and constructs will include such as the above mentioned "corporate city making" on a grander scale; or as the work of artist Dan Graham, who is pretty much about the words "reflection and construct"; and other very interesting and important ones.
The number of letters used in the article .
LEARNING TO TRANSLATE LITHUANIAN. A PERFORMANCE. Bram Thomas Arnold The Gallery, Dartington College Of Art
I went for a walk from my front door to the edge of Dartmoor. I took some photographs along the way I got home, sat down and started to write, rewalking the path in my mind. Out of the still images I constructed a film. Out of the scribbles I constructed a text that I invited others to edit. Out of the edits I created a distorting narrative, which became part of the film. At every subsequent showing I offer my text for editing by the viewer, with the promise to add their edit to the film in its next incarnation. With the 2nd Alytus Biennial in Lithuania in 2007 I saw the opportunity to work with translation to further destabilise the narrative of the document of this seemingly inconsequential walk. I worked with the Lithuanian translator Gintautas Kaminskas, based in Canada to develop a
Lithuanian version of my text for â€˜Door To Moor: Lithuanian Editionâ€™. When the film was shown in Alytus copies of the text were made available in both Lithuanian and English for viewers to edit, therefore participating
The sparse grammar of Lithuanian, the inadequacies of my small dictionary, and my complete lack of knowledge of the language, combined with my acute familiarity with the original text in English produce a series of distortion poems from the edits.
in an ongoing, or never-ending, film project. The Lithuanian editors remained anonymous to me and I developed a performance project to translate the edits back into English in real time using only a small Lithuanian-English dictionary. The sparse grammar of Lithuanian, the inadequacies of my small dictionary, and my complete lack of knowledge of Lithuanian, combined with my acute familiarity with the original text in English to produce a series of distortion poems from the edits. These have now been compiled and added to the video, further destabilising the relationship between narrative, image, and linearity on a walk that was all about the repeated development of a non existent path between two points.
Gaps In Archaeology By Alex Stevenson
Gaps in Archaeology, relates to participants being encouraged to physically handle and be in some way responsible for the changing material state of a set of art objects. Each re-made object was based upon an original museum artefact and therefore examines how the changes to the physicality of the art objects may have contributed to unusual interpretations. This work was developed into an audio guide intended for both art and museum audiences and was informed by the interpretations of a group of selected experts from various fields. The ‘experts’ who contributed to this work come from the fields of Interpretive Studies, Visual & Material Culture, Complexity Theory, Ecology, and Folklore. This way of working is closely related to Nicolas Bourriaud’s idea of ‘postproduction’, whereby the artwork has been based on other artworks. In Bourriaud’s theory the ‘commodified history’ - where nothing is allowed to change, is challenged by re-visiting a historical object in order to use it, to try to understand how this could be interpreted while revisiting it all the time and feeling totally free to create new associations.
At this point, it is important that I briefly define my outlook on interpretation in relation to archaeological artefacts and art objects as the term belongs to academic fields in the analysis of data, evidence, etc. By ‘interpretation’ I do not infer a honing of research or the establishment of accredited meaning in relation to data; my use of the word is to expand, rather than to pare down meaning. I suggest that interpretation exists as a tool with which to explore how knowledge and associations are applied (especially in relation to artefacts with little or no known provenance) and I aim to create new ways for audiences to relate to art objects and archaeological artefacts. By opening up the process of interpretation, through a practice similar to Bourriaud’s idea of ‘post-production’(re-making), this project enables the construction of a non-hierarchical assemblage of associations and knowledge. Within this assemblage, the roles of artist, expert, and audience become diffused and intertwined.
icon on parchment
Alignment Series Drawing No 3 This line of experimentation in particular compares the print factory to the artist as image-maker. Through this investigation I undertake several processes upon documentation of print factories. These include systematic drawing, the layering of drawing, printing and chromatography.
An adaptation of an existing productive process provides a basis to translate a system or it’s product. My practice uses the rules of the print machine for producing structures according to the syntax of the language of production eventually developing my own individual interpretation.
This way of making has developed a commentary on mechanical motion, alignment and CMYK as the basic components of the print machine. This ‘new’ language that develops is full of complications and contradictions, however it also reveals the processes and key elements of the system.
Through the disturbance of the constructive process, the form that develops represents a shift from a ‘proper’, scientific and systematic production towards a more inventive and imaginative process.
file: underground bus station location: Campinas documents presented: 2 date: 2007 orginal format: digital dimension: varies textual reference: World Bank
URBAN ALTERATIONS ongoing visual archive ON altered social situations by José Roberto Shwafaty
I started by documenting spaces in the city, trying to map different types of situations, to think in possible alterations to that contexts and situations, to make them visible. To map is to translate situations, to archive actions, to determine relations between elements that can project realities. These images have simultaneously a desire for documenting reality (visibility) and for creating an alternative, a new program or construction to specific places and situations (project). I establish relations between images and reference texts, in order to create tension and to configure a narrative for those contexts. With almost 19 millions of inhabitants today, (met. region), SÃO PAULO is one of the largest cities on planet. Some see it as a ‘laboratory of modernity’. I prefer to think of it as an arena, a field of selfproduced life. The official regulations (laws, politics) of this reality arrive always after the phenomena are already structured and placed in the city’s dynamics. The city’s constitution is constructed by many multi-layered conflictive programs of life.
Brazil’s metropolises are facing many issues in the transport sector. Economic sector is disproportionately based on road transportation; more than 60% of the country’s freight in terms of ton-km moves by truck. The paved federal highway network (58,000 km) is the cornerstone of the country’s transport sector. The rise in private automobile use, reflected by a shift away from public transportation form the middle and up classes in urban areas aggravates the problem. According to an “Associação Nacional de Transportes Públicos” study, private cars use 12.7 times more fuel than buses, produce 17 times more pollutants, and occupy 6.4 times more space. Access by the poor to public network of transport is also an issue, because this network generally extend into the impoverished neighborhoods on the outskirts of metropolitan regions, becoming the principal link for low-income workers to reach work, health centers, leisure and schools. However, the majority of the low income class cannot afford the fares. Thus, equity concerns (providing access and affordable transportation to the urban poor) are at odds with sustainability considerations (reducing chronic government deficits and allowing private sector providers to make a reasonable profit). Worst, the small private interests always prevail form collective ones, and temporary solutions (almost always out of minimum standards), are maintained as real solutions, even if this causes many other problems.
file: armored car factory location: São Paulo documents presented: 4 (of 7) date: 2006 orginal format: digital (essay) dimension: varies textual reference: NY Times, 2004 . Todd Benson
With the rise of urban crime armored car business became one of Brazil’s fastest-growing industries.It is also seen as a sign of social status and luxury. Even if violence continues to be a big problem in Brazil, armored car sales have been declining, partly because most wealthy Brazilians had already theirs “super luxurious” bulletproof cars. To keep their business up, armored cars companies turned to the export market, looking to some other “war zones” to expand their market: The Middle East, especially Iraq. (...) After years of focusing strictly on Brazil’s internal market, some companies are bringing the much-needed dollars into the country and driving an economic growth (by exporting everything from washing machines to commercial airplanes, and armored cars also). In last May, exports totaled a record $7.94 billion, helping Brazil to have a positive market balance result of more than $3 billion for the first time in history.
file: self organized closeness location: São Paulo / Campinas documents presented: essay date: 2005 - 2007 orginal format: digital dimension: varies textual reference: Karina Landman & Martin Schönteich
file: overnight shopping (stagnation, inflation, and crisis)
The growth of gated communities in Brazil is a manifestation of a growing middle class, and what could be see as a sign of progress, is a result of structural deficiencies that prevent wider economic and social mobility. Security in Brazil means fences and walls, private guards, video monitoring and sensor activated alarms. Security has become a way of life in Brazil and the concept of ‘total security’ is the new “top quality” of real state marketing. Fortified enclaves include now office complexes, shopping centres and other spaces adapted to conform to this new urban model, transformed in a sign of social status and luxury (because its high prices), exacerbating an existing pattern of urban segregation by creating physical boundaries and barriers all over the city. Fortified enclaves can also lead to the privatization of public space or the reservation of certain spaces for exclusive use small social groups and in addition, they are changing the nature of the existing public spaces, that became sometimes almost forgotten. They contribute to higher levels of inequality, fear, suspicion and feelings of vulnerability in those ‘outside’ the boundaries, also contributing to the privatization and transformation of public spaces that are neglected, abandoned and relinquished to violence and other illegal forms of control.
Politics is more and more based on economiccs, and in a speculative era, there is no doubt that social movements will once again be criminalized and oppressed by the official forces. To adopt free trade and fully open economy to the huge international monopolies - could condemn Brazil to a permanent dominance by market policies what would mean perpetuating the inequalities that make our country the most stratified in the world. We can just buy. In the known inflationary and speculative “overnight period” (from midle 80’s to nowadyas ), at night when we slept, others where working to extract informations for the next speculative day of “immaterial exchangings”. What we see is the growing impossibility to materialize and to manifest collectively the people desires in urban spaces, the choice for the closeness of private life instead of a more social one. Even if we think about small changes through social policies, the fact still is if we will have a more unequal country; if we will be a more democratic society or a less democratic one; if we will have a country or become just a speculative market, consolidated as a conservative country run by oligarchic elites (a mix between Daslu and Opus Dei)... If we will be reduced to a stock market, a shopping mall surrounded by poverty on all sides.
location: São Paulo / Campinas documents presented: essay date: 2004/2005 orginal format: digital (diptic) dimension: varies textual reference: Emir Sader, October 12, 2006.
Translating Death On Susan Hiller’s ‘The Last Silent Movie’, 20min. Black Screen, sound recordings of 25 extinct and endangered languages , subtitles: English. Loop By Sonja Lau As much as we may agree to consider a translation being necessarily insufficient - thinking of the deferral of meaning, rhythm, phonetics and above all, our reading – as much we are inclined to leave aside the much more radical and yet little discussed scene where these insufficient translations become the sole placeholder of their sources: languages that have lost their own transmissibility. Susan Hiller’s latest work ‘The Last Silent Movie’ that comprises the sound recordings of extinct and endangered languages allows to look deeper at the symptoms and emergence of language death, introducing hence the question how an ‘insufficient translation’ can be read in an era where cultural traditions are ever more memorized in a predominant universal language. Among all means of cultural transmission, one can think of language as the most crucial element to provide a continuum of a people’s culture and tradition. In the event of the speech tradition is handed down from one person to another, less through mere information than through the live experience of the person speaking. As with Hampâté Ba (1) famous pronouncement at the Unesco in 1960 that in Africa ‘when an old man dies, it’s a library on fire’ , we might be reminded of the importance of the spoken word as to prevent cultural memory to turn in ashes. An extinct language does not necessarily hint to the absence of text, but to the absence of the speaker. In Susan Hiller’s work, language itself regains this initial meaning, is it not what we preserve as a text, but it is what a person speaks out loud. In her film ‘The Last Silent Movie’, she recalls the event of the speech as she reduces the cinematic effects to the minimum. Composed by a mere black screen emptied out of any visual references, the film exposes a distinct selection of 25 recorded extinct and endangered languages. It is a vague memory
of the oral tradition, an ephemeral taste of campfire and storytelling that is so strangely echoed in the movie theatre set up that Susan Hiller offers to the spectator. It is both a privileged and uncanny encounter. Not only we transgress time as we listen to the voices of speakers that have already passed away, we are also struck by the unsettling anachronism of a person rising the voice in a language that has become inanimate by now. As even the origin and the context of the languages remain uncommented until the end credits, Hiller’s film opens up for a sound experience of nearly unsettling immediacy, which is also due to a facet of the spoken word itself. It is a ‘living’ archive as the languages –by definition extinct or severely endangered- lay bare not only by the sound of the language but also the voice of the speaker. However, less than thinking of those voices as being brought back to live, they have been collected and brought over from their former context to our review. It is the subtle reverberation of a ‘bring ‘em here, dead or alive’, the (in)famous concept that has shaped film classics, human history as it has marked the emergence of the archive as we are to be reminded here. This is where the convenience of the role of a mere film spectator shifts into a most dubious position. We might not be first-hand collectors, but as much as we sympathize with those lost treasures, there is an awkward uselessness in our presence towards the extinct, and even more towards the endangered languages we perceive. To prevent a language to undergo language death demands repetition. We are witnessing voices that set out to address a future listener to repeat and memorise their words, yet unable to take the tradition further. As Agamben (2) suggests ‘Loss of tradition means that the past has lost its transmissibility, and so long as no new way has been found to enter into a relation with it, it can only be the object of accumulation – the past becomes a monstrous and indecipherable archive’ . As Hiller’s film runs in loops, we find ourselves confined to accumulate the sounds of those voices that have now become objects to their self-repetition.
Yet we are affected. There is a secret brèche from where to enter into a relation, as there is the fact that the screen is not actually merely black. Along with the sound and the stories of the endangered and extinct cultures, the English subtitles run through the film like the ‘white’ line of the narrative. Following those translations, we are learning about a jealous man who squeezed the brain out of his wife’s head, about the White Man who is not to be trusted. It is the story of cultural and linguistic hierarchies, oftentimes marked by ‘blood and sinews’ (3). The threat to loose one’s language is occasionally outspoken, then again left to be decrypted between the ‘lines’, the subtitles. But we do not really need to read between the lines, because we are already reading. As we read the lines literally imposed on the fragile matter of the recorded languages, we enter into a relation not only with the heritage of a lost culture, but into a parallel history of language death, played out here in its most subtle nuance. We are affected by the linguistic loss, but we are so only through the imposition of another language. If a language becomes extinct, in its translation continuity and eradication are merged together. Unlike translations of a living language, they do not offer just another alternative, but a replacement of what has become irretrievable. The translation then becomes the prosthetic of a loss, and like a prosthetic it is both somewhat brutal and useful, dead and continuative. Significantly, we are likely to remember the English translation with much more ease than the actual sound of the native language. In this sense, I will to conclude on the subtitles of the Comanche dialect (severely endangered) and recite that
‘from now on, we will speak Comanche, forever’
WAMPANOAG, Massachusetts, USA, Speaker: Chief Wild Horse, the last speaker of Wampanoag, addresses linguists at Dartmouth College. Recorded by G.M. Day 1961, Source: Dartmouth College. KULKHASSI, South Africa, Speaker: Kabara, one of the last speakers of Kulkhassi; her language is extinct and her song cannot be translated. Recorded in 1936, Source: courtesy Anthony Traill. YAO KIMMIEN, Vietnam, Speaker: Cang Thi Minh. Recently recorded, Source: department of Linguistics, University of Texas and Arlington. WELSH ROMANY, Wales, Shropshire, UK, Speaker: Hywel Wood. Recorded in 1954, Source: courtesy Peter Kennedy. UBYKH, Turkey, Speaker: Tevfik Esenc, the last speaker Ubykh, who died in 1992. Recorded by J.C.: Catford, 1989, Source: LACITO (Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale). JIWARLI, Western Australia, Speaker: Jack Butler, the last fluent speaker of Jiwarli, who died in 1986. Recorded by P.Austin in the 1980’s, source: department of Linguistics, University of Melbourne. KOLYMA YUKAGHIR, Russia, Speaker: Akulina Slpcova. Recorded in 1986, Source: Irina Nikolaeva. COMANCHE, Oklahoma, USA, Speaker: Geneva Woomavoyah Navarro. Recorded in 1998, Source: Numu Tekwaouha Nu Meneekatu (the Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee). SILBO GOMERO, La Gomero, Canary Islands, Spain, Speaker: Juan Cabello. Recorded in 2003, Source: Jeff Brent. JE RAIS, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK, Speakers: unknown. Recently recorded, Source: Omniglot. BLACKFOOT, Canada and USA, Speaker: Flora Zaharia. Recorded in the 1990’s, Source: Schoolnet Canada. LIVONIAN, Latvia, speaker: Petor Damberg. Recorded in the 1970’s, Source: Uldis Balodis. LENAPE, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Delaware, USA, Speaker: Nora Thompson Dean, one of the last fluent speakers of Lenape. Recorded in 1979, Source: Brian Standing Bear Wilkes. SOUTHERN SAMI, Norway, Speakers: southern Sami choir singing The Song of the Sami (Isaak Saba, 1906; music by Arne Sorlie), adopted as the Sami national anthem in 1986. Recently recorded, Source: Arran (Sami Culture and News). NGARRINDJERI, South Australia, Speaker: Rhonda Agus. Recorded in 1999, Source:FATSIL (Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander Corporation of Languages). POTAWATOMI, USA and Canada, Speakers: Ruby Shuckahosee and Isaac Bennick. Compiled in the 1990’s from earlier recordings, Source: Department of Education, University of Kansas. BORDER CUNA, Colombia, Panama Borders, Speaker: Justina Pinead Castrellan. Recorded by J. Sherzer, 1970, Source: Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America, University of Texas K’ORA, South Africa, Speaker: Mukalap, the last speaker of K’ora, addresses an overseas conference of linguists. Recorded in Johannesbirg, 1938, Source: courtesy Anthony Traill. CAJUN FRENCH, Louisiana, USA, Speakers: Earlene Broussard, Mick Abed, Ariana Giambrone and Amanda LaFleur. Recently Recorded, Source: Department of French Studies, Louisiana State University XOKLENG, Brazil, Speaker: not named. Recorded by G. Urban, 1975, source: Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America, University of Texas NGANASAN, Russia, Speaker: V.B: Kosterkina. Recorded by J.L. Lamber, 1997, Source: UNESCO: Endangered Languages of the Peoples of Siberia MANX, Isle of Man, UK, Speaker: Ned Maddrell, the last native speaker of Manx, who died in 1974. Recorded in 1048, Source: courtesy Peter Kennedy WAIMA’A Timor Lorosa’e (East Timor), Speaker: Domingos Borges Belo. Recorded by M.Belo, J.Bowden and N.Himmelmann, 2003, Source: DoBeS (Dokumentation Bedrohter Sprachen) KLALLAM, Washington State, USA, Speaker: Edward Sampson Sr., one of the last fluent speakers of Klallam. Recorded by T.Montier, 1992, Source: Department of Linguistics, University of North Texas SORBIAN (Lower), Germany, Speaker: Susanne Hose. Recorded in 2004, Source: Serbski Institut, Germany
(1)Amadou Hampâté Bâ at the UNESCO in 1960. Within the same institution, he then dedicated himself in 1966 to the development of a transcription system for African languages. (2) Giorgio Agamben, The Man Without Content, trans. Georgia Albert, California: Stanford University Press, 1999, p.108, also see James Lingwood (editor), Susan Hiller: Recall. Selected Works, Baltic, 2004, p.80 (3) I am referring here to the words of the 19th century British linguist J.R.Firth’s and his dictum ‘World power makes world languages.. (..) they are build on blood, money, sinews (…)’, who at the time used those terms in full pride in the English language expansion
1 step a meal in a box on the side of a telephone booth
A fast food meal in an open box is sitting at the centre of a vivid red background. The box contains a burger, fries, a drink and something that resembles a piece of chicken. On each side of the box, a fork and a knife have been so exaggeratedly illustrated that they resemble a set of garden tools. Above the box, large white type in a stencil typeface informs you that the box meal is new. The meal is called big daddy; it costs four pounds and eighty-nine pence. At the bottom of the message, the familiar logotyped face of this fast food chain is above a line of text which assures you, that youâ€™ve got great taste.
11 steps holidays on the side of the bus
Shades of pink monopolise this message. A pink couple is followed by multiple pink copies of itself, in what seems to be an infinite amount of times. The couple is shown from the waist up standing next to each other, under the bright rays of a sun that shines white light above their heads and spreads its warmth everywhere within the image. The man and the woman are wearing their swimming suits; although the manâ€™s swimming suit is not visible, one can safely guess that he must be wearing one since his torso is naked.
They both have their sunglasses on. The woman is holding a pink beach ball under her left arm. She is probably holding the manâ€™s hand with the other. To their right, a bright pink circle contains some letters and a large number in its centre. The letters, which follow the circleâ€™s curve, together with the number, encourage you to get your five breaks a year. To their left, a line of pink text has also been multiplied several times, further enhancing the sense of direct sunlight. It informs you, that united we tan.
Making Do, is an independent publication. London, 2008 Editors: Alexandre Coco, Andrea Francke, Mary Ikoniadou, Asli Kalinoglu All material is compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but published without responsibility for errors and omissions. For subscriptions information and general enquiries please contact email@example.com www.makingdo.org.uk