(In alphabetical order by first name – the Icelandic way!)
Abé Mark Nornes – keynote speaker
Calligraphy and cinema have an intimate relationship in East Asia. Indeed, the ubiquity of the brushed word in cinema is one element that actually ties works in Korean, Japanese and Sinophone Asia together as a regional cinema. On first glance, cinema and calligraphy would appear as radically different art forms. On second glance, they present themselves as sister arts. Both are art forms built from records of the human body moving in (an absent) time and space. How does one adequately subtitle a calligraphic script, attaching the dead letter of helvetica to a linguistic text whose visual materiality is so spectacularly central to meaning making? How does investigating this very problem lead us to rethinking the nature of the cinematic subtitle, which is very much alive―a truly movable type?
The linguistics of music:
Analysing aesthetic and cultural meanings of Chinese music as a case study
Can music and language be rigorously compared and studied against one another? This paper demonstrates that, whilst music as a sensory-perceptual experience as such cannot be analysed via linguistic means, aesthetic and cultural concepts written about music can.
In western music, composers have generally continued the tradition of “describing” how their works should be performed engaging in the use of musical terms such as affettuoso ‘tenderly’ in Italian etc. These musical terms are, essentially, aesthetic and cultural concepts talking about music that are to be expected in a rendition or perception of the work. These concepts can be rigorously explained using language.
Chinese musical concepts present a compelling focal point of study since many have been in use for several millennia. These concepts not only provide us with a window through which to tap into Chinese music but they are also “cultural key words…which reflect the core values” of Chinese culture (based on Wierzbicka 1991: 333). As our linguistic tool for analyses, this study adopts the Natural Semantic Metalanguage, as advanced by Wierzbicka and Goddard. Analysed meanings of selected Chinese musical concepts illustrate how, why and in what respects these concepts attest to important aesthetic and cultural values in Chinese.
Japanese translations of the Book of Psalms – religious poetry across cultures
In the report I’m going to investigate the specifics of translating the Book of Psalms into Japanese using two modern translations – the Kogoyaku Seisho (Bible in spoken Japanese) and the International Biblical Society translation. The Book of Psalms is a very specific phenomenon because it started as both collection of ancient Hebrew poetry and literary expression of archaic Judaism. It happened so that this biblical book became sacred for the main Abrahamic traditions so it came to Japan as already part of Christian discourse, and it much complicated the translation because translators had to keep in mind both ancient Jewish dogmas and reality and Christian interpretation.
In the case of Japan the matter was particularly difficult for main religious ideology in Japan is Shintoism that shaped both the language and the culture of the Japanese. It negates all metanarratives and seldom deals with systematic ideas of the universe, so such concepts as monotheism, one truthful religion were hardly accepted by the Japanese. Also the meaning of faith and ritual must be stated, because monotheistic religions (and Christianity, to which most translators belonged, even more) makes an accent on faith, and the Japanese do not view their deities personally, just performing strictly defined rituals.
But the most interesting aspect is the linguistic one because the very structures of poetical tropes and language constructions show us the differences between the two cultures and the mutual influence between language and culture becomes explicitly visible. Just for example, the main biblical tropes are metaphor and parallelism that were chosen to show the idea of harmonically and hierarchically organized universe with God as its center. And the Japanese use metaphorical constructions very seldom (in literature mostly in Chinese-style poetry or “shocking” comical verses), for they prefer metonymy that gives us the idea of a homogenous world where all objects are equal in status and essence.
Anat Eisenberg, Bergþóra Snæbjörnsdóttir, Rakel McMahon, Saga Sigurðurardóttir, Yair Vardi
The Days of the Child Prodigy Are Over
The Days of the Child Prodigy Are Over is a cooperation between five artists based in Berlin and Reykjavík. All the artists come from different fields and include the following: Anat Eisenberg, director/dancer; Bergþóra Snæbjörnsdóttir, poet; Rakel McMahon, visual artist; Saga Sigurðurardóttir, dancer; Yair Vardi, light designer/performance artist.
The work is comprised of two elements, i.e. a performance and a book. The initial source of the work is a dialogue between texts and drawings, where the writer and the visual artist together create a blueprint for a script and characters. When this initial foundation has been completed the other artist in the group join the process and make their contribution to the main and final outcome which is the performance.
The Days of the Child Prodigy Are Over is a work which explores the characteristics and boundaries of three art forms, i.e. drawing, text and performance. The same subject matter is looked at from these three perspectives; also how the three art forms interact with each other and their impact on each other. In other words, this is an unconventional approach where no single art form dominates the creative process. For instance, the script will not be precise with a conventional narrative, but rather be a mutual meeting point for the artists to come together and create an independent work.
Content vs. context – from the aura of substance to the pseudo-aura of the author
‘The times they are a changin’’ – in the Middle Ages authorship was no big thing, but coming to the source of information was. You needed to travel to get to the monastery library, some books were inaccessible to almost anybody etc. Now almost everything is accessible in an instant, legally or illegally (via download methods) and the aura of the work as something which is not easy to reach has shifted to the pseudo-aura of the author. That’s why we pay a lot of money for the VIP zone at a concert, travel to India to see our guru, get our books signed at readings (can the rise of the e-book change that or will the printed book still keep an aura of something special?) or need to read everything what our favourite theoretician wrote, in addition to attending his or her lectures personally whenever an occasion rises. Virginia Woolf asked for ‘a room of one’s own’ – now ‘a public room’ is in demand by most writers and artists.
Does content still matter or is it the context, the brand name of the author, what really counts? And – do we really have too many books, at least too many to choose from effectively?
How does the contemporary ‘instant accessibility’ of art and literature affect the position of aura, ‘that special something’ in the literary field? Has it shifted from the work to the author? How does this phenomena affect the literary field?
Connection between Word and Music: Eugene Onegin, Novel in Verse and Opera
Two 19th-century Russian masterpieces, Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin and Tchaikovky’s opera Eugene Onegin in its contemporary staging at the Bolshoi Theatre (2006) and at the English National Opera (2011) are in the focus of this presentation.
The aim is to exemplify a number of connections between the novel and the opera and to provide evidence that the opera is the intersemiotic translation of the novel. Tchaikovsky based his opera on seven scenes from the novel. The text of these scenes can be classified as the intralingual translation of Pushkin’s Onegin according to the Jakobson’s classification of translation types (1959); it provides an interpretation which takes place in the same language and involves a number of rewordings or paraphrases of the original. Tchaikovsky’s opera, in which music and text are combined, belongs, however, to another Jakobson’s category, an intersemiotic translation: for instance, some verbal signs are interpreted here using non-verbal signs. It will be shown and explained how the various components of opera such as music, decorations, costumes, lights, arias, dance and a set of titles contribute to translating the novel.
The Blind Flâneur: sensing the city and self through walking
This paper is concerned with the potential of moving between language and visual representation as a means of exploring perception as embodied experience. The research used comes from of a wider interdisciplinary project, offering a rethinking of the interplay of the senses and particularly the dominance given to the visual in our culture. As such, the project has a particular focus on the visually impaired, both as direct collaborators in the project and through offering a critical examination of how the blind have been visually represented to the seeing world. Moving away from an understanding of blindness as starting from a position of lack (of sight), the project uses the everyday practice of walking as a means of exploring the body as a multidimensional perceptual organ, shaping both how we make sense of the world and how ideas of self are formed. The overall project combines historical research, formal and informal discussion among blind and sighted collaborators, as well as processes of exploration through visual and/or language-based practice. This paper will specifically address the question of translation between and interplay of media.
Radicalizing Romance: (Re-)Adapting the Nation in Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s Debdas
While always vastly popular, Hindi cinema has in recent years begun to acquire high academic respectability. The rise in the academic interest has been proportional to the rise in the global presence of Hindi cinema and India in general.
This paper will examine the three widely popular Hindi film adaptations of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s (1876-1938) Bengali novel Debdas (1917) – Devdas (1955), Devdas (2002) and Dev D (2009). Addressing itself to the language of these adaptations and the way they ‘perform’ a certain vocabulary of romance within the emerging consciousness of nationhood, the larger commitment of the paper will be to discuss the creative transformations that inform and shape them.
The three adaptations of Debdas become an entry point to read the issue of adaptation as creative rendering – as a contentious site of possibilities, where claims of artistic originality are negotiated and re-negotiated. This opens up a perpetuating question of what constitutes the process and nature of exchange between the two mediums of ‘literary’ expression, and how this exchange can result in the mutual canonization of both the original and adaptation. How does this canonization in turn privilege specific associations of romantic articulations, one that is perhaps predicated on the evolving political economy of Hindi film industry over a crucial six-decade period in modern Indian history?
Unbearable Untranslatability. Polish and English Version of the Japanese Play Five Days in March by Toshiki Okada
In 2008 a prosaic interpretation of a drama entitled Five Days in March won Kenzaburō Ōe`s prize for its universal style, character and problem it tackles, intelligible regardless social and cultural context of the audience. Nonetheless, in contrast to the verdict of the literary prize committee, Okada`s play contains many subtle references to what constitutes Japanese identity, verbalized in language or expressed in gestures. The set of such peculiarities enacts a role of a contextual frame, which partly determines the meaning of a dramatic situation. As it is almost impossible to recreate a cultural context in translation, the audience abroad has to rearrange elements of what they see on stage and refill the whole story with their own senses.
In my presentation I would like to discuss the pursuit of literary translation and difficulties encountered during such work, especially if the original language of the text contains as many ambiguous expressions as the Japanese does. Throughout a comparative analysis of both English and Polish editions of the drama, I shall concentrate on untranslatable moments, method used to solve such dilemmas and consequences it entails. Finally, I will discuss a problem, which appears when translating a play, written for stage rather than for readers, in which communication through words seems to be dysfunctional.
Lacrimae Rerum: Ekphrastic Mourning from Virgil to the Moderns
The aim of this paper is to describe the interaction between literature, art, and death as it appears in the trope of what I will call ekphrastic mourning.” Ekphrastic mourning refers to moments of ekphrasis that are at the same time moments of mourning, i.e. the character who views a visual artwork is at the same time moved to tears because it reminds him of his own mortality and that of others. As my paper will show, this particular model of ekphrasis goes back all the way to Virgil, to the well-known “lacrimae rerum” passage in the first book of the Aeneid (where Aeneas weeps in front of a mural depicting the slaughter of the Trojan war) but it also continues to occupy a considerable place in modern and postmodern literature. Through a reading of Virgil as well as twentieth-century poems and fiction by, among others, W.H. Auden, Thomas Pynchon, and Sylvia Plath, I intend to offer a theoretical description of the trope of ekphrastic mourning, and to account for its continued appeal across time.
Material and Meaning at the Museum
The proposed paper, for the conference, Art in Translation, at the Nordic House in Reykjavik, adressess the construction of meaning; a physical, textual and subjective reading of the art – guest interaction, in the museum.
The art object, the concept and creation of an artist, when in the museum, often stimulates unexpected interaction and engagements.
The art objects materialities, and the museum guests, become entangled in the making of new meanings.The paper adresses the unexpected, which takes place within the museum, through the often silent discource between the art, the museum space and the intervention of museum guests.
In this presentation I will discuss a selection of works concentrating on projects which deal specifically with notions of translation and literary themes. Presenting a selection of my oeuvre from the last twenty-five years, I will describe the evolution of my visual language, itsrelation to painting, photography history, literature and poetry. I will attempt to explain how my visual language engages with wider themes, using disparate artistic practices in an interdisciplinary process in order to create a multi-referential artwork. In this respect I have made a point of utilising the unique fixed-point perspective of the camera, in order to create elaborate narratives. These narratives have the quality of being both open and closed. They are closed in that they clearly refer to given icons and archetypes ofWestern culture, but open in that they accommodate any number of potential readings. These readings, in turn, reflect the contemporary cultural climate and the unique authorial role of the viewer.
I will discuss in particular the development of my 2001 exhibition ‘Ossian, Fragments of Ancient Poetry’ within it’s historical and literary context. Other projects I will discuss include ‘In Memoriam’ an interdisciplinary project with the Dept of English and the Dept of Anatomy at Dundee University.
The Play of Creative Differences: Poetics of Film Title Translation in Hong Kong
The act of translation is the act of creation – a series of complex processes which the term “translation” may fail to denote. Conceived of as the afterlife or the continued life of the original, translation as a process of transferring the signified of one language into another is a life-giving activity which provides a stage for survival for the original, giving it shape, spirit, and strength. This paper discusses how translation as a creative practice involves a dynamic life-giving process which rewrites, transforms and supplements the source text while conforming or running counter to the dominant poetics of the target culture. Mediating between at least two texts of different languages, translation as the final product of such interaction can be regarded as one of the most noticeable sites of cultural diversity and vibrant creativity. Drawing on a large variety of translated film titles in Hong Kong, this paper attempts to engage readers in a delightful experience of approaching translation phenomena from a creative yet systematic perspective.
“A Pregnant Allegory”: Metaphor in German Translations of Moby-Dick
This paper considers the topic of metaphor in Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick and the treatment of metaphors in various German translations, from the first translation in 1927 to recent renditions by Matthias Jendis and Friedhelm Rathjen. While the translation of “literal language” creates numerous challenges, the translation of figurative language—including metaphor—poses additional options and complications for the translator. The stakes are high, since metaphor is much more than simply a linguistic phenomenon. As cognitive linguists have shown, linguistic metaphors activate crucial conceptual domains. Thus, the shifting of metaphor in translation—the result of various linguistic, cultural, and stylistic concerns—has the potential to alter important source text conceptual domains.
As one might imagine, Moby-Dick is a rich repository of metaphoric language that utilizes myriad conceptual domains. The focus in this study, however, is the metaphoric source domain of pregnancy, which Melville uses to foreground the importance of hiddenness, especially as it relates to Captain Ahab and his obsession with the white whale. Through the examination of metaphors in translation, we stand to learn more not only about the various artistic treatments of Moby-Dick in translation but also about the source text stylistics found in Herman Melville’s masterpiece.
Ednemi – Elísabet Brynhildardóttir
When is art text and text art?
“With the foundation of publications such as Endemi visual art magazine, Blatt Blad and Útúrdúr bookstore there has been a rise in the publication of material challenging the friction of text and visual art.
This collision is evident in contemporary art in Iceland and one of the aims of Endemi is to reveal this collision. In our previous issues we have received works from artists who express themselves through various forms of language and communication. Many have submitted visual work but Endemi has also receives written work, be it fictional writing, artist statement or visual text pieces.
The editors have also collaborated with artists in creating texts, for example publishing a mix of an interview with “artists writing” as seen in the article “Reflections on drawing and space” by Elísabet Brynhildardóttir and Margrét Blöndal in the second edition of Endemi. In the same edition the notion of visual poetry was examined visually and verbally by Ragnhildur Jóhanns and poet a. rawlings.
At art in translation Endemi visual art magazine sets out to shed light on the importance of a collision of visual, verbal and written language. Artist writing can often be seen detached from the artists creation instead of being apart of the work. However there are artists challenging this detachment, using text as art and art as text.
Roaring in Silence: Translating the Scream in Visual Representations
Since Lessing‘s Laocoon the idea of the gaping mouth in visual art has been an aesthetic issue which modern artists, knowingly or not, responded to with strange hesitation, perhaps the first time with any vigour with Munch‘s Scream. After that breach of the taboo, however, artists have exploited the silent (and not so silent in film) scream to their advantage. This paper will provide a short panorama of the (im)possibilities of the translating a scream in silence.
“Text-I’ll Spin through Textile”
Someday, somewhere, someone said something like: The only way to understand is to misunderstand. Which is what this presentation must be about, due to the wordplay in the title.
To describe what you’ve been wondering about and what you’ve been doing for the past few years. Then describe it with clarity and for others to understand what has been described and for them to think that they’ve understood it, then to listen to the presentation and forget the description in hope to understand what is happening here and now. For here and now, from Gudri Lapė’s point of view, is there and then.
For the past few years she has been researching herself, and becoming aware of how her personality, her identity slowly multiplied and new names have had to be thought of to fit these identities. While her given name has made communication complicated in her daily life throughout the years and led her to work with this identity obstacle in her text, performances and textile related art as the main subject.
To summarize it and take it one step further, Gudri Lapė has put these art, language and identity related stories into one and is going to spin the thread through a spiderweb of the term of understanding.
visual music, graphic notation & sound-drawing
In the beginning of the 20th century such artists as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee were in the forefront in liberating the pictorial plan of the canvas from representation – their aim being a form of absolute, non-objective art, thus making it comparable to the purest form of expression, music.
Western Art Music composers around the middle of the 20th century got inspired by this new-found freedom in the visual arts and looked for ways of their own to accomplish the same within their creative discipline. By using various visual signs, symbols and drawings, instead of the traditional notation system, these composers began to express their musical inspiration in a more open manner, in the form of graphic notation.
This resulted in artworks, which could be read as musical scores, and in musical scores, graphic scores, which could be displayed in exhibitions as visual art, such as the scores of composer John Cage, Earle Brown and Haubenstock-Ramati, to name but a few.
With today’s digital technology the audiovisual works/performances of today are capable of creating experiences where sound and image can be linked through the use of the same signals – just as a sound become a visual image, an image becomes an audible sound experience.
Speaking through the Voice of Another VII: Who speaks?
This performative work investigates the subjectivity of translation, raising questions about the presence of the translator, what happens ‘in’ translation? and what can be learned from this interdisciplinary encounter? I will be developing the project during the conference and inviting delegates to work with me: inviting them to teach me a phrase in ‘their own’ language. I will subsequently collate these words and incorporate them into an ongoing work, presenting them ‘back’ to the audience to highlight the dialogic and polyvocal nature of translation. This work draws attention to the different voices, positions, roles and relationships at play in translation by using the linguistic device of diesis and back translation to problematise and amplify the shifts that happen translation; thus exemplifying the unstable nature of cultural communication. This uncertainty has often been considered as negative, something that needs to be overcome, however I propose that this ‘fuzziness’ should be embraced as a positive attribute and can be used as a creative and reflexive tool, which provokes questions in and of the source language as much as the target language and thus has the ability to provoke new ways of thinking. This performance will form part of my PhD thesis.
Freya as Re-Production
Freya Bjork Olafson performed her work Avatar in The Reykjavík Art Museum in the spring of 2011. She presented herself to us physically as a dancer, dancing with a computer program as her colleague, a way of slowly turning into a cyborg. Through this we, as the viewer, bear witness to Freya‘s consolidation with a digital form of life where she unifies and magnifies her powers as an image, in the conception of an avatar. So, the question is, following Donna Haraway: How do you create a subject, if not matrixically? In everyday behavior we connect with digital life forms, as when we get stung by a mosquito, changing us in minute ways. As Sherrie Turkle claims, we have incorporated the digital into our bodies. In the same way Sandy Stone has pointed out, it is through the incessant unification with the avatar that people tend to make them do very different and more complex rituals than they are inherently programmed to do. This is what happens in the union of Freya and the computer code of the internet through their common need to interact with others, this engendering an avatar that from then on reproduces of its own accord.
The Constitution of the Republic of Iceland in Performance
An analysis of the re-constitution of the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland into a musical performance by artist team Ólafur Ólafsson and Libia Castro.
The Constitution of the Republic of Iceland, in the handling of Ólafur and Libia, was first performed and exhibited in 2007 in The Art Museum of Akureyri in the north of Iceland. It was then re-performed as a television production in 2011 and performed and exhibited in Hafnarborg, close to Reykjavík. Documentation of the TV production and the canal performances then became a central part of their exhibition in the Icelandic pavilion: Your Country does not Exist. The intention of this paper is to examine the production and possible reception of this project, dealing with issues of its translatability in diverse ways. The translation of the legal document into various artistic media is a major concern, another being the transportation of the work into an international situation where it clearly has become a part of the problematic emphasis on ‘illumination’ in the Venice Biennale, coupled with other works of Ólafur and Libia dealing with nationality and citizenship in this new context. To achieve these aims the works of Ólafur and Libia and their processes will be examined in depth in context of the works of various theorists, such as Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Michel de Certes and Nicolas Bourriaud.
The Spelling and the Spell of Dying Men
The Spelling and the Spell of Dying Men is a performance exploring relations between the Christian martyr Saint Sebastian, and the writer Yukio Mishima. Mishima was born 1925 in Japan and commited ritual suicide “seppuku” in 1970. In the autobiographical novel Confessions of a Mask the writer describes an erotic encounter with a reproduction of a painting of the saint. Sebastian is depicted in his most famous pose, arms above his head, one over the other, tied to a tree and pierced by arrows. This ekphrastic scene has worked as a point of departure for the project, and is explored through text, sound and still and moving image. Textual and physical transformation, the aspect of becoming through language and image, is a core theme explored within the framework of the project. The performance presents possible readings of links between the writer and the saint, elaborating on aspects of surface, heroic death, the act of writing masculinity and the conjuring of men.
Translating History Into Film: The Case of Mary Queen of Scots
This paper focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century depictions of Mary Queen of Scots in film. A historically significant character, cousin and rival to Elizabeth I, mother of James I and VI of England, who united the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, a focal point for Catholic resistance to religious reformation in Britain, Mary’s dramatic life and untimely end at the hands of Elizabeth’s executioner has been an inspiration to writers, artists and film makers through the ages. She has become a popular icon, sometimes seen to symbolise the victimization of Scotland by England or as an unofficial Catholic martyr.
The paper examines representations of Mary and her story and addresses whether the myths surrounding her personality and actions are upheld or deconstructed. To this end, films such as Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), along with TV series such as Elizabeth R (1971) and Gunpowder, Treason and Plot (2004) are studied in some detail. The paper further demonstrates that even in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, filmic portrayals of Mary Queen of Scots tend to emphasise the “feminine” qualities so often accorded to her in past cultural representations, albeit to a varying degree and with notable deviations.
Translating a composition: performing the interval
This paper focuses on two current artistic projects Performing Hekla and Breathe & Time/Breathe Reprise, which explore the relationships between musical notation and its sonic counterpart, i.e. the performative act of reading/playing it through language. For Breathe & Time/Breathe Reprise, for example, two singers perform two Pink Floyd songs, the vocal melodies remain but all lyrics and other music are replaced by descriptions or musical notations; both spoken and visualised.
Performing Hekla, a re-composition of Jón Leifs Hekla, further explores the complexities inherent in the translation process, by way of a large orchestral piece performed on site (in the landscape) by a choir, narrators and other audio/visual material. These projects will be discussed in relation to notions of space, the Japanese concept of Ma and Bergsonian duration.
I am interested in how the verbalisation, as opposed to the vocalisation, of the musical notation alters the way in which the performer engages with the interpretation of the work through the performative act. How does this affect the way in which they act as a group, performing the act of translation in action? The paper aims to unravel some of these complexities, both from the perspective of listening, reading and action.
John D.A. Winslow
How the Internet Saved me from the Post-Modern Monster
Taking the Internet as the first truly post-modern, structure-free, environment the talk aims to evaluate the emergence of Alt Lit, a movement creating literature predominantly released and available through the Internet. The use of flarf, image macros and Internet abbreviations as a response to Internet culture will form the basis for an investigation for the ability of the Internet to act not just as a platform for the distribution for culture but as an arena within which culture can be created. Key to this is the way social media has led to the emergence of a more interactive, collaborative form of writing will be examined. The use of post-irony (perhaps within this context best defined as relating something sincere and earnest whilst using an absurd tone/persona) within the movement and the way this links to the use of constructed naifs through the use of typos within the work of poets such as Steve Roggenbuck will also be examined. Alt Lit’s seeming transgression from a purely literary movement to a intermedia, cross-arts movement will also be looked at.
David Cronenberg and Adaptive-Expressionist Biology
What kind of research work is done in David Cronenberg’s cinematographic laboratory? In the book of interviews, Cronenberg on Cronenberg (1992/1997) the Canadian director explains to Chris Rodley that he did not want Naked Lunch (1991) to be about homosexuality or drugs. However, for a film on or about a book by William Burroughs this seems quite restrictive. If you play those two issues down, what is there left in a Burroughs-story? According to Cronenberg’s reply Burroughs is more about addiction, manipulation and control, but even more than that – and this is at the core of Cronenberg himself in adapting Naked Lunch: “I wanted it to be about writing.”
What does such a ‘writerly’ intent presume when the film made is based on a book written by someone else? Writing as a mode of making art becomes discussed from this perspective in the context of contemporary adaptation studies, and the argument develops an idea according to which Cronenberg’s film adaptations are examples of meticulous research. Rather than being simple transpositions or loosely assembled analogies, they are studies thoughtfully focusing on the myriad connecting, yet organic mechanisms that stitch literature and film together.
Julie Fournier Lévesque
An undictation is a word I invented, it refers to the activity of writing down a passage that is read aloud in an incomprehensible foreign language for the listener. Not a transcription, nor a translation, an undictation is a phonetically personalized version of a spoken language. It reflects the sensitivity of one’s personal linguistic background, by showing how one perceives sounds and transforms them into a new composition of words and meanings.
You are invited to participate in a public session of undictation. I will tell you a story in French and you will undictate what you are listening by providing your written interpretation of it. This performance is an occasion to experiment on a form of creative translation.
Films In-Between Book-Covers: What Is Happening to Baby Jane?
Traditional ways of studying adaptation have mostly focused on the topics of fidelity and originality. This paper, however, is concerned with adaptation as a ”process of in-betweenness”, a movement of connections, in which the relations between the ”original” and the adaptation are thought through analogy, i.e. as similarities born from difference.
As a ”case-study” this paper concentrates on Henry Farrell’s novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1960), Robert Aldrich’s film of the same title (1962) and a Finnish novel, Baby Jane (2005) by Sofi Oksanen paying special attention to the different ways of ”visual settings” these three works create. Oksanen’s novel is a lesbian romance situated in Helsinki, Finland, around 1995-2000. The American versions of Baby Jane take place in Los Angeles of the 1960s, where the two sisters, Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson reside almost in isolation.
Robert Stam, the author of several contemporary books on adaptation, insists that a film-adaptation is automatically different from the ”original”, because the media is different. Taking Stam’s idea as a standpoint, and celebrating the singularity and materiality of various forms of creative actions, this paper ask: what ever is happening in the process of adaptation?
A translation as lovely as a tree: Writing about translation in 17th century Iceland
On the surface of things, Guðmundur Erlendsson (1595-1670) and Páll Björnsson (1621-1706) have little in common. Guðmundur Erlendsson ranks among the most prolific poets of his era, although he is admittedly better remembered for the quantity of his poetry than its quality. As a translator, Guðmundur adapted his sources freely, radically transforming and even supplementing his material as he saw fit. By contrast, Páll Björnsson, one of the wealthiest and best-educated men in Iceland in his day, was of the belief that translations were inherently lacking in authority and inferior to the original. Páll was a particularly fierce critic of relay translation – the practice of translating a text via other translations – and advocated a complete retranslation of the Old and New Testament into Icelandic on the grounds that earlier translators did not make use of Hebrew and Greek source texts.
Oddly enough, however, both Guðmundur and Páll describe their source texts as trees – a somewhat unexpected sight in the otherwise barren landscape of 17th century Iceland. In my presentation, I will examine these translated trees and what they reveal about discourses of translation in early modern Iceland.
Katharina Kim Alsen
Blurring Speaks: Gerhard Richter’s Photo Paintings and the Notion of Vagueness
Since the invention of photography, it has been considered as a threat to painting.1 The allegedly precarious status of art works in “the age of mechanical reproduction”2 is closely related to the assumption that mass produced objects are of poor artistic value, separating unique masterpieces from iterative low culture devices.
Gerhard Richter’s photography-based paintings, however, turn this media-sceptical fear around and display a reciprocal alliance between the notion of photography and painting, and their relation to textual elements: All forms of image-making merely appear as deficient copies of an unavailable original; even the putatively realistic medium of photography is substantially scarred by an ineluctable blurring which (re-)presents nothing but distorted pictures. This blurry mode of vision does not only form a new common bond of inter-art relation, but requires new patterns of beholding and interpretation as well.
Facing the omnipresence of doubling structures within Richter’s works, they can be read as visual metaphors for translation in general: Meaningful elements, which are perceptible to the optical or auditory senses, get transferred from one system to another whereby the original source gets preserved and somewhat concealed at the same time. Richter’s photo paintings provide a pictorial commentary on this concept by offering a discomforting intermediate stage between and/or beyond the different visual and technical approaches.
Related topic: Aesthetic challenges in translating one art form to another
Kelly K. Y. Chan
The Musical Setting of Chinese Poetry as Expressed in English
In both Western and Chinese poetry, the significance of music lies in the indications of meter, cadence, stressed and unstressed syllables, and rhythmic representations. Music assists in getting the semantic meanings through by a complicated blending of a poetic product essential of melodious tones with rich endowment of rhetorical features and lexical beauty. In the process of rendering, however, several options have to be applied as long as the ways of compiling music in English and Chinese poetry are never similar.
Classical Chinese poets restrained themselves to using strict stipulations at meters and rhymes to achieve musical beauty emphasized in the poetic tradition, while in English poems, number of syllables, alliterations and rhymes may have contributed more to the musical setting.
It is thus crucial to note the overall musical impact created by the original poet; the translator may have to be as creative as to be an artist him/herself in taking care of all these musical contributions, to re-create a Chinese way of musical verse as expressed in English, which manifests itself in terms of the Chinese tunes as compared to English syllables; the Chinese rhymes as compared to English ones; as well as the Chinese assonance, alliteration, meter, and onomatopoeia etc..
Fanfiction and Wikis: How the Digital Age has brought about the True “Death of the Author”
“We know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author.” So says Roland Barthes in his influential 1967 essay “The Death of the Author.” This idea faced criticism and reproach immediately following its publication, and even today many deny the truth or validity in Barthes’ vision. By examining the traditions and trends in fanfiction and digital fanfiction (including online fanfiction blogs, forums, and wiki pages), this paper explores the ways in which these digital technologies in fiction and writing have proven that, as Barthes suggested, what matters most in the work, wholly separate from its author. The constantly evolving technology combined with the just-as-constantly growing fanfiction community makes for the rise of the reader in the present moment of the literary world. These trends show that the reader is the destination of the work—it is the place where all meanings, origins, and elements culminate. The digital writing platforms of fanfiction websites and wiki sites are the real-world realization of Barthes’ ideas. This paper will compare Barthes’ theories in “The Death of the Author” with developments of the digital technologies and communities of fanfiction and it will show how the digital age has brought about the “next frontier” in literature, writing, and art.
Video and the Transformation of Twenty-First Century Essaying
In a form as malleable and difficult to define as the essay, how can we learn to classify composition beyond the written word? The video essay, as its been coined over the last few years, often grapples with the same kinds of questions as its prose counterpart. Just as the ways in which we classify and define the essay are troubled, so is the way in which we consider the video essay.
As the form gains popularity among online and multimedia literary journals, new questions arise as to how we understand the role of contemporary essaying. Do multimedia elements in relationship to the essay offer another entrance point into the material and make work more assessable, or does the juxtaposition of video and text add another layer of complexity? And how can the video essay function most effectively within one of these realms, or both?
By exploring the work of contemporary video essayists such as Su Friedrich, Nick Twemlow, and John Bresland, as well as cinematic greats like Chris Marker and Ross McElwee, we can begin to understand the expanse of the genre.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle we face as artists and writers is learning to craft visuals that do more than just offer a narrative that mirrors the text. If filmmakers and essayists can continue to challenge themselves to create multimedia work when the subject demands it, can produce images that offer simultaneous complication and insight into a text, then the possibilities of the essay are limited only by the technology afforded to us. If writers, artists and critics fail to cultivate and develop a vocabulary for the limits or limitlessness of a form, then we risk squelching a potentially endless array of intellectual and creative possibilities.
Picture This: The use of text as art to evoke images or create disjuncture
Throughout history words and images have been used in combination to communicate. From illuminated manuscripts to what is now ubiquitous advertising, text and images are employed to reinforce each other, often quite literally, to pursue the same story or idea.
In the early nineteenth century, John Ruskin, the English writer and art critic wrote highly evocative texts to describe the world around him, which provided triggers for the imagination to conjure up images. Poets at the time also believed that ordinary language, individual words and phrases, could become potent centres of transformative energy and that words could imply incompleteness that could only be fulfilled through the outside intervention of the imagination of the reader. In many ways this is more akin to the sensibilities of 20th and 21st centuries art in which viewers are indispensable components of the artwork.
This paper will explore text and art and the slippages that may occur between words and images when they are combined. This presentation will explore how texts can evoke images in an individualistic and imaginative way. The ways that words ‘punctuate’ images to give them pause or introduce new possibilities of combination or disjuncture will also be examined to challenge the unspoken authority of the word.
An (In)Visible Letter
This paper takes the form of a letter, a prevalent genre practiced by many women across cultures, and manifestly by some women in the nushu region, that has enabled them to articulate themselves. Exclusively used by women in Shangjiangxu Township, Jiangyong County, Hunan Province, China, nushu, women’s script, had remained a secret among women. Derived from the local dialect, this phonetic system of writing is believed to be created by women. Through generations of practices with this matriarchal script, some women had defined for themselves positive terms in the contexts they lived. Writings in nushu are found on papers, paper fans, booklets, and some are embroidered on handkerchiefs; apart from letter writings among female friends and relatives, genres include accounts of historical events, prayers, folk songs, wedding missives, biographies and autobiographies. Addressing to a deceased elderly woman whom I visited 3 times in the region, the writing covers accounts of the women’s practice, interwoven with the cultural discourse, mainly women’s art and literary practices from the West. Whilst bringing forward a forgotten culture and seeking the possibility of articulating one’s desires, the writing opens up a dialogue connecting women in the practice of chanting, weaving, writing and drawing, across cultures, space and time.
Małgorzata Dancewicz and Krzysztof Pawlik – INIRE
re-membering re-called by INIRE is audiovisual processing on symbolic context of memorizing and textuality of memory. Analyzed and described, memory still remains enigmatic cause of preservation of individual and collective identity. Performance is an attempt to find an answer to the question whether, in addition to registration, storage and playback of events, there are other, apart cognitive, archetypical structures and processes to preserve human’s identity.
re-membering re-called is composed of three independent interpenetrating levels: sounds, texts and video. Important element of it’s construction is spoken language, singing and melodeclamations, which mix thorouhgly electronic world with natural human expression. Randomly screened video pictures are rendering up to modifications in real time. Performance sequences are collected of figures associated with the concept of comprehension and apprehension textual and nontextual factors of memory.
INIRE is a project composed by artists working on the mutimedial art fields. The most important audiovisual realisations since year of it’s creation (2001) are „Hermetic Garden” (2001), “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos” (2004), „Traces” (2007), “Atalanta Fugiens” (2009), “chopintimacy” (2010) „Dante’s Songs 2.011”, fluctuated between postmodern philosophy, art history, structures of myths and communication theory.
“Add a graphic and increase your traffic” – Intermedial Signification in A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
This paper grows out of a larger investigation into the intermedial strategies employed by a number of contemporary writers and the effects their implementation has had on how we perceive and understand their works. In many cases, technological advances have prompted experimentation and innovation. The inception of the ebook, a corresponding (and not entirely unrelated) expansion in the production of audiobooks and, most recently, phone and tablet apps, have all have a marked effect on traditional narrative structuring but also on the ways in which various media intersect, blend or collide with surprising results. One of the reasons for the popular and critical success of Egan’s latest and most celebrated work, A Visit from the Goon Squad, lies in fluidity, its experiments with modality that produce so many moments of illumination. In this paper, I focus on the penultimate chapter of A Visit from the Goon Squad, entitled “Great Rock and Roll Pauses,” (composed in PowerPoint format and narrated by a 12-year-old) in an attempt to show how Egan’s preoccupation with innovatory modes of expression and presentation herald what I see as a new combination of randomness and design in the novel.
Making Artwork Between Cultures: Book Arts in Kumasi, Ghana
Speaking from the viewpoint of a maker interested in using the collaborative nature of the Book Arts in support of cultural diplomacy, Mary Hark will describe the development of a small hand paper mill and the creative activities that have grown from it. Collaborating with Ghanaian artists, scientists, and students, Hark’s project produces high quality handmade papers from local botanicals. Out of this work Take Time Press and other community activities have organically arisen.
Take Time Press seeks to draw upon the synergistic nature of an artist book (drawing from both the literary and visual arts) to nurture international collaboration and celebrate the cultural richness of Ghanaʼs Ashanti Region. Along with Hark, founders include Ghanaian artist Dr. Atta Kwami, UK painter and printmaker Pamela Clarkson.
Sharing the story of the inaugural publication of Take Time Press, Hark will describe the rewards and challenges of working collaboratively between three continents.
Fury in a Cage: Seven Poems after Francis Bacon
The object of my proposal is to study the references to the work of Francis Bacon in British poetry and an attempt to define the key aspects of Baconian aesthetics that inspire literary works.
Even though Bacon openly rejected narrativity and storytelling in painting, he often sought inspiration in literature, especially in poetry. He particularly admired Federico García Lorca, and T. S. Eliot, and he alluded to their works in some of his paintings.
Bacon’s art, on the other hand, inspired numerous literary works of British and French authors, such as Dom Moraes, Thomas Blackburn or Alain Bosquet; and he maintained close friendship with many of them. For this reason my study will also include a biographical approach to the subject.
This paper will center more narrowly on the series of seven poems written by Anne Stevenson and inspired by the art of Francis Bacon. I will study which aspects of Bacon’s art appear in literary works and how the visual content of his painting is translated into poetry.
Translating the Untranslatable: Emily Dickinson’s Poetry as a Challenge
The poetry of Emily Dickinson shows a deliberate and conscious tendency towards condensation and conciseness. This may account for the choice of short verse forms in the overwhelming majority of Dickinson’s poems, her current use of elliptical constructions, and her unique way of punctuating the poems so that dashes, commas, periods, and other marks effectively perform the same functions of words.
If translation is perceived, on one level, as a process of reinterpretation, then the poetic language of Dickinson, which combines the advantage of conciseness with the capability of connoting a rich complex of suggestions, inevitably poses various challenges to translators, and constantly raises the debatable question of translatability and untranslatability.
The aim of this paper is to explore certain linguistic and non-linguistic challenges that a translator unavoidably encounters in translating poetic works in general and the poems of Emily Dickinson in particular. Through an examination of different Arabic translations of selected poems, in addition to the scholar’s own experience in translating these poems, the paper focuses on some stylistic features in the texts at hand, as identified problems in the translation process.
“Flipping something outta nothing”: on the translatability of hip-hop iconicity
Iconicity is prevalent in circumstances in which language is created. Iconicity, in fact, refers to the ability of language to present, rather than represent, its meaning, which is performed by words.
Songs are among the most socially responsive forms of contemporary art: they are constituted dialogically through recognition and exchange with an audience, hence they appeal to one’s iconic competence.
The present contribution aims to investigate the translatability of iconic elements in hip-hop culture. The focus of my analysis will be linguistic iconicity in rap lyrics. The language used, which we might call inner city-BEV, seems to move towards the ideal hypothesis of an anti-language, a conscious alternative to the official language, whose main feature is lexical innovation. In rap music this creative phenomenon is deliberately partial because the lexicon has mainly to do with subculture activities and semantic derogation. Working on a corpus of around one hundred rap songs, I will discuss in a pragmatic perspective the iconic use and the (un)translatability of ideophones, alphabetic letters, onomatopoeia, rhyme, metonymy, eye dialect and word-formation processes. I will scrutinize to what extent iconicity may be considered as the driving force towards lexicalization and whether the iconic one-to-one principle is violated by individual reinterpretations.
Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson
A few words on the act of writing a message in bottle
This talk is about the act of writing a message in a bottle, about the impossibility of communicating meaning and about an underlying belief or expression of faith that can possibly serve as a explanation of why we write anyway.
We will try to examine if the following statements are true:
a. All writing is a credo.
b. All writing is a message in a bottle.
c. All writing is a form of automatic writing.
Translatabilities: figure of caesura in the context of screenwriting
Caesura is normally defined as a counter rhythmic pause in texture of classical verse. In modern poetry caesura is discussed as a figure in poetic form presenting and marking a traumatic moment in man’s experience. This kind of interpretability of caesura is then again questioned by Jaques Derrida in his readings of Paul Celan’s poems: with the figure of caesura one is on the edge of something that vanishes if to be mastered.
In my PhD by practice thesis I study consequences of the notion of dramatic caesura for screenwriting discourse, as it was first described by Friedrich Hölderlin in his remarks on translating Sophocle’s plays. I will discuss the translatability of the notion of caesura in the light of Samuel Weber’s and Walter Benjamin’s writings: translatability not just as a property of an original work, but rather as a potentiality that can be realized in relation to something else. This makes me identify some specific questions arising in translating caesura from the metaphysics of drama to the practice of writing for screen. As a conclusion, I will discuss such a caesuraic potentiality in my own works as a screenwriter.
Robin Hemley – keynote speaker
Lines That Create Motion
All literary writing is a form of translation, of course, and writers and readers alike become bogged down in technicalities when they think of writing as a kind of literal translation of experience. The short story writer, the essayist, and the poet are literal in the way that American short story writer Flannery O’Connor said that a child’s drawing is literal. The child does not aim to distort, but as he or she sees the lines that create motion, these are recorded. In the same fashion, the literary writer records lines of motion (spiritual, cultural, psychological) in their translations of experience. As a writer of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, and as the son of writers and translators of the work of Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, I view the genres likewise with fluid boundaries and open to constant reinterpretation and reinvention. What interests me as a writer are other authors who cross genre boundaries and engage in translations as it were from one genre to another: the essay informed by the poetic, the short story informed by the essay, and writers who translate the same experience in multiple forms.
Rúnar Helgi Vignisson
Fictional Truth – using the methods of fiction in biographies
In 2009, the Icelandic scholar Jón Karl Helgason published the biography of one of Iceland’s best known patrons of literature, Ragnar in Smári. Ragnar was an energetic entrepreneur and publisher who used the profits from his various businesses to publish books by Iceland’s leading novelists, among them Halldór Laxness, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1955.
Helgason structures his biography around the three days leading up to the ceremony in Stockholm where Halldór Laxness receives his Nobel Prize. We accompany Ragnar in Smári on his way from Iceland to Stockholm and see him prepare for the biggest event of his career as a publisher. The author uses the opportunity to have him sum up his professional life, and in the meantime Helgason manages to create a narrative that is reminiscent of a novel and even includes a few fictionalized passages. In my lecture I argue that this method allows for a more vivid and even more truthful portrait of this memorable man. At the same time, I argue that fiction sometimes provides greater access to the truth than nonfiction due to the allowances that come with it.
The Ideological Recreation of Maria-Antònia Salvà’s translation of Frederic Mistral’s Mirèio during the Catalan Diaspora
After the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), two thirds of Catalan intellectuals and artists left the country owing to political reasons. Many of them took up residence in Mexico. In so far as Catalan language and culture were banned in Spain, these emigrants took upon themselves the task of maintaining Catalan culture alive. Publishing houses were established to preserve and promote Catalan literature, especially those texts originally composed in Catalan. This paper will investigate the reasons which led to the rare publication of a translated narrative poem in 1946, Maria-Antònia Salvà’s Mireia. Its prologue recodifies the source-text in the Catalan political milieu, metaphorically connecting the Catalan and Occitan cultural and linguistic subalternity. It also imagines a bridge of reciprocal cultural interchanges and historical continuity until the present day. From the medieval past to the physical and cultural displacement of the Mexican exile, the prologue and the text construct a web of interactions to preserve and promote the use and survival of Catalan in the mid twentieth century. Therefore, the domestication of Mirèio in the context of the Catalan diaspora becomes an affirmation of Catalan culture and language abroad at a time of excruciating political repression of both in Spain.
I work with texts and images and want to take the viewer to a certain atmosphere that hints a distant past and fragments of memory of places and events that took place long time ago.
The texts or words in my work give a feeling of a continuing story that involves winged figures, socalled travellers that are the story tellers that probably have an important message to get through on their travels as they move through a landscape that is more symbolic than real.
The words are not ment to stand on their own, they do not form whole sentences and therefor the story is a poetic version of a world that exists only in my mind. Visually they are an integral part of the world I want to create.
The form of the work refers to Old Manuscripts, Chineses landscape paintings, altar pieces, movies and fairy tales come to mind.
Everything starts with words and when joint together they make a sentence and it is up to the viewer to interprate that sentence. My visual input with the words gives them a meaning. In my talk I will give you a look at how I interpret that.
Miss Suvi Nurmi
Poetry workshop as a method of community-based art
In my presentation for the Art in Translation conference I would like to focus on the poetry workshop method I have been developing since 2008. It is about collecting words from the official, internal communications of a certain community and then inviting the members of the community to form poems using those words.
I have used the poetry workshop method so far among tens of communities from an old folks’ home to an elementary school, from a refugee reception center to a construction company’s office building and many more with inspiring results. The words and participants are never the same, so the poetry workshop method can be used over and over again, and the situation is always a new one.
By arranging the words arbitrarily the workshop participants are able to give vent to the sometimes negative or frustrated feelings the familiar words might raise. They are invited to make fun of the bureaucratic terms that they normally are expected to take seriously. At its best, a poetry workshop can heighten the community spirit and work even as a therapeutic situation, in which the words, cut out from official notifications or publications, can take wing and gain compeletely new meanings.
“When the paint brush finally puts me down” – The visuality of Tóroddur Poulsen’s poetry
The Faroese artist Tóroddur Poulsen (b. 1957) has since he published his first book of poetry in 1984, developped an ever stronger multidisciplinary mode . His work consists of more than twenty volumes of poetry, three books of prose, and five spoken word CDs, the three of them with his own music. He has had works of art at several exhibitions in the Faroes and Denmark. Poulsen has been translated into Swedish, Danish, English and German. As a poet he is characterized by a passionate relationship with language, his poetic medium, which in his hands becomes sensuous, estranged and intimate at the same time:
When the last word
has resigned from me
I will take a job as stone
Tóroddur Poulsen: Steðgir 1996. English by Turið Sigurðardóttir
Subject matter concerning visual art plays a crucial role in Poulsens poetic imagery. In recent years he has become increasingly active as an lithographic artist , very often using handwriting as important components of his artwork. A sculpture of a massive ‘book’, carved out of wood, reflects his lasting occupation with art’s matter and form.
Zachary Tyler Vickers
Convergence: Text-Image Dynamics of The Graphic Novel
The marriage of text and image offers a unique portrayal of the human experience, and pushes the boundaries of experimental literary structures that attempt to capture a sort of visual representation, idea, or sensation with its organization, or its absence, of text. The graphic novel is an experience that is self-paced, and gives the reader the role of director—to rewind, fast-forward, linger. By looking at some of today’s most influential and affecting graphic novels, this paper aims to explore and examine the text-image dynamic, and its use in modern literature.
The visual artist, Magnús Pálsson (b. 1929) has since 1984 mainly been working with text in his works, where he researches (among other things) the spoken words and it’s sonic/musical properties, using both Icelandic and English. This work of his with text is most visible in pieces that he calls Raddskúlptúrar (e. voice sculptures) where he brings out the ‘music’ that exist within the language, the works may vary from two-voice performances up to theater setting and 20 voice choir works, and have been performed on several occasions by various kinds of performers; actors, musicians and visual artists, which exposes somewhat the different approach these artist have on text and how it is performed.
Bryndís Björnsdóttir, visual artist and Þráinn Hjálmarsson, composer, have been working with different aspects of Magnús Pálsson’ ideology in terms of performance and use of text, presenting results from a dialogue that Bryndís and Þráinn have made with Magnús’ work, in the lecture, titled snemmendis.
This collaboration is in close relation to Magnús Pálssons idealogy about art process as he has in the past emphasized not only on the submersion of different art medium but also on finding ways of creating unexpected conversations between different individual. For Art in Translation, Bryndís and Þráinn will continue their new collaboration by finding new ways of embodying and thereby translating the presence of Magnús Pálsson and his influence on their artistic processes.