Friday, 5 March 2010

Art of Translation

More Friday frivolity. By serendipitous chance today I came across the fabulous work of an American artist called Nina Katchadourian. Her work intersects with translation in wonderful ways. She's a translator's daughter, so this is probably not a coincidence (something to bear in mind, all you translators out there with daughters). She has translated rocks, parsed the secret language of bookshelves and facilitated the speech of popcorn. Her translation projects address questions of resemblance, identity and imitation. As someone who grew up in a bicultural household and in an Ireland where accent and identity were everyday issues, I really like her project 'Accent Elimination', of which you can see a clip here:

I ask myself how one would subtitle this...
My favourite project of all, though, is the one where she gets a bunch of United Nations translators and interpreters to imitate birdsong, apparently not on the basis of listening to recordings but by reading other people's graphic and syllabic representations of what the birdsong sounded like. There's a good article about her work here (needs flash enabled). Enjoy.

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