Reflexive Practice – act of translation
”I was drawn to how, by artistic means, there might be ways of translating otherwise by stimulating other ways of seeing toward an ethics and aesthetics of recognition.” Jane Jin Kaisen 1
The presented work is a part of the PhD Project Reflexive Practice – Trans-medial Process and Method in Architectural Education. The project focuses on the medial forms of articulation embedded in the creative architectural practice, and on this backdrop, this paper examines the relationship between forms of articulation, or languages, in different aesthetic disciplines.
The current theme Framing – Reframing is here pertinent in relation to translation as a productive act. In the trans-medial process – i.e. transpositions between various media – translation is a basic condition, characterised by the differences between the media operating as a vehicle for transformation due to the transgression of the individual medium’s limitations. The act of translation thus affects how meaning is produced, altered and reconfigured2.
By looking more closely into translation as a phenomenon, it is possible to examine and challenge what is constitutive of the individual medium, and its language, and which expectations and connotations are attached to it: what framework constitutes the medium itself, e.g. what are its expressive possibilities (technical, materially, etc.), and what are the meaning-forming frameworks, e.g. which representational discourses constitute it, how is it situated3.
In every language terms and concepts are conditioned by their linguistic origin and use, and an exact translation into another language is therefore impossible; in any translation, according to Derrida, lies the untranslatable4. Considering this aporia, the act of translation is associated with a responsibility – and a responsiveness and attention to the specific circumstances that establish the relationship between a concept and its linguistic anchoring, argues Butler5. Furthermore, translation is a necessity in the attempt to create common frameworks of understanding and recognition, a sensus communis6, across languages and modes of articulation.
According to the writer Herta Müller, language is something that is constantly becoming, something that is created and experienced. It happens, collectively, in a society7. Language is thus conditioned by spatio temporal conditions, by the context that forms the basis for its development and exchange. For Müller, the written language is the medium with which she translates and conveys experienced life. However, words are only approximately carriers of meaning that correspond to the lived experience; in their contiguity, they are a construction that creates its own linguistic event, and thus articulates something about the world.
Reflecting on the projects experimental work with photography, casting models and video- montage, the presented paper will investigate how these linguistic conditions operates across disciplines and media environments. Within the languages of aesthetic practices lies an inherent appeal to the Other8, and the contention here is that the concept of untranslatability can be a driver within the act of translation in the creative process, towards a more nuanced view on the languages we use and how we use them as a broader conversational means.
1 Jane Jin Kaisen (2020). Community of Parting. Copenhagen: Archive Books, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Publishing, Kunsthal Charlottenborg.
2 Butler, Judith (2019). Gender in translation: Beyond Monolingualism. philoSOPHIA, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2019, pp. 1-25 (Article). New York: State University of New York Press.
3 Harraway, Donna (2020). Situeret viden - videnskabsspørgsmålet i feminismen og det partielle perspektivs forrang. Copenhagen: MindSpace.
4 Derrida, Jaques (1998). Monolingualism of the Other: or, the Prosthesis of Origin. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
5 Butler, Judith (2019). Gender in translation: Beyond Monolingualism. philoSOPHIA, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2019, pp. 1-25 (Article). New York: State University of New York Press.
6 Arendt, Hannah (1958). The Human Condition. Chicago: The University of Chicago.
7 Müller, Herta (2009). Livsangst og ordsult. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
8 Arendt, Hannah (1958). The Human Condition. Chicago: The University of Chicago.