Translation and Multimodality

26 May 2017, 11:00 - 16:00

Seminar Room SG1, Alison Richard Building

Free and open to all but ONLINE REGISTRATION is required. Limited places
Deadline to register: 19 May 2017

One-day Event

With this event we intend to take a bolder interdisciplinary stance and to engage with recent research that explores intersemiotic translation in its most innovative forms. Since Jakobson’s definition as “an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of non-verbal sign systems” (1959) the expression intersemiotic translation has increasingly been used to designate relations among different signifying systems in general (literature, cinema, comic strips, dance, music, sculpture, painting, video art, and others). Further perspectives have recently been furnished by multimodality, defined as the “use of several semiotic modes in the design of a semiotic product or event” (Kress and Van Leeuwen 2001), where a mode is ‘a socially shaped and culturally given resource for making meaning’ (Kress 2010). The nature of the relationship between modes (i.e. images, sound, gestures, body posture, the use of space), how they interact, etc. contribute to the creation of meaning on a multimodal text. One of the aspects often investigated is how these relations are retained or transformed in the process of translation.

The increasing centrality of electronic, audio-visual and i-based (i-phone, i-pad, etc.) forms of communication has made audiovisual translation an important area of both research and practice, which often overlaps with multimodal translation (Chiaro 2008). If the simultaneous engagement of more than one sense faculty in communication is nothing new, multimodality has undoubtedly acquired new forms in our digital era, and has extended to a wider spectrum of genres. Translation is increasingly part of contemporary literary and artistic experimentation, where it becomes an integral component of the entire meaning-making process by “performing biliteracy across both linguistic and semiotic boundaries” (Lee 2013). So art installations ‘translate’ poetry through their design and space arrangement, and multimedia bilingual poetry collections with the source text only as audio track and options for simultaneous multilingual and/or multivisual fruition challenge standard notions of translation and literary experience. Further experiments in multimodal translation have involved dance, theatre and Sign Language, whereby English (and Spanish) is translated into British or International Sign Language, which are in turn adapted into choreography, in a fluid intersemiotic dialogue and negotiation of meaning (de Senna 2014).

New studies concerned with intersemiotic/multimodal translation have looked at the ways contemporary choreographers have translated syntactic and temporal features of some modernist writers into singular movements, or movement sequences, sound objects etc. (Aguiar and Queiroz 2015); others have explored the philosophical and aesthetic implications of the ‘untranslatability’ of the logographic features of the Chinese script into Western logocentric meaning, and how contemporary Chinese artists have attempted to ‘translate’ Western values or their artistic representations (e.g. mysticism/crucifixion) through the Chinese characters in their paintings (Hass 2016).

Finally, the long-standing debate surrounding the translation of poetry, both from a theoretical and a pragmatic standpoint (Holmes 1970, 1988; Lefevere 1975, 1992; Bassnett 1980; Hermans 1985; Eco 2003; Jones 2011; Reynolds 2011; Drury 2015) has recently been complicated by competing perspectives, many of which advocate the importance of factors that are predominantly neither literary nor linguistic, as in the case of some ‘slam poetry’ or ‘spoken word’ artists. Some of these supplementary factors become more conspicuously manifest when poetry and translation are situated in the context of performance – that is, when the reading of poetry ceases to be merely a silent cognitive activity, and involves some kind of rendition. There are the usual subtle distinctions to be made here between performance and performativity, yet any enacting of a so-called ‘performance translation’ is a distinctive activity, and one which can powerfully establish or destabilise important linguistic identities (Sidiropoulou 2004).

 

Manuela Perteghella (The Creative Literary Studio)
TransARTation! Wandering texts, travelling objects

 

Part of Cambridge Conversations in Translation Research Group Seminar Series

Administrative assistance: gradfac@crassh.cam.ac.uk

11.15 - 11.30

Welcome

11.30 - 12.15

Gunther Kress  (UCL)
Translation in a social semiotic multimodal approach: from bottom up, right to left, inside out.

12.15 - 13.00

Rosa Van Hensbergen (Cambridge)
Translating bodies in Japanese experimental performance

The presentation contains projected and real nudity

13.00 - 14.00

Break (lunch is not provided)

14.00 - 14.45

Manuela Perteghella (The Creative Literary Studio)
TransARTation! Wandering texts, travelling objects

14.45 - 15.30

Hannah Conway  (Composer)
Creative composition workshop: music, ears and instinct
 

15.30 - 16.00

Roundtable discussion and close

Gunther Kress (UCL)
Translation in a social semiotic multimodal approach: from bottom up, right to left, inside out
 

In my talk I try to imagine and sketch what a social semiotic and multimodal approach to translation might be about, what it might be like, what it might encompass -- and how it might differ from a more traditional approach. As I assume that many in the audience will have no knowledge of what either Social Semiotics or Multimodality are, I will briefly say something about these two topics. Using an entirely conventional definition of 'translation' -- "a carrying across, removal, transporting; transfer of meaning" -- I will explore how the terms in that definition might be thought about in a Social Semiotic / Multimodal approach. One part of my interest is the issue of “naming”: that is, to what extent the existing terms continue to be useful / useable or not -- terms such as language, transcription, representation, transformation. The other part of my interest -- in relation to Multimodality specifically -- is the question of the availability of apt notational resources for the process of “transporting” of meaning. The third point is the very question of “transporting meaning” itself: that of course is not new in discussions of translation, but might be worth looking at from a social semiotic perspective.

Gunther Kress is Professor of Semiotics and Education at the UCL Institute of Education, University of London. His research is in communication and meaning-making in contemporary environments. His broad aims are to continue developing a social semiotic theory of multimodal communication; and, in that, to develop a theory in which communication, learning, identity are entirely interconnected. One part of that agenda is to develop apt tools for the ‘recognition’ and ‘valuation’ of learning. He has led and contributed to a wide range of research on multimodal interaction and environments, including the gains and losses of changes in representation, knowledge and pedagogy, the English and Science classroom, and more recently the surgical operating theatre. 

 

 

Rosa Van Hensbergen (Cambridge)
Translating bodies in Japanese experimental performance
 

This presentation will use projection and voice to consider the mediation of the body through text and film in Japanese experimental performance. It will take two starting points (below) to reflect on how this mediation might turn the 'gilded edge of loss' of the 'event' as 'disappearance' (Badiou) into the work itself. Tracing what-is-no-longer or what-never-was might be one way to mark the performance of, what Peggy Phelan has called, the 'unmarked'–'that which cannot be surveyed within the boundaries of the putative real'.

1) Several months before he passed away, the founder of butoh dance, Hijikata Tatsumi (1928-86), toured a lecture ('Wind Daruma', 1985) which opened with an anecdote about catching a cold. The Japanese for 'cold' (kaze) and 'wind' are homonymous. 'From talking about colds' he ends up talking about a 'person' 'wrapped in the wind' in the North of Japan. The homonym carries the figurative trace of Hijikata's ailing body under the figurative face of a distant 'person' disappearing into wind. This carrying forward of a previous body-condition, as loss, into a subsequent one is characteristic of his late notational language. It is particularly marked in a lecture in which Hijikata introduces an important coinage, 'ailing[or weakening]-body' ('suijakutai'), only to disappear it, as the lecture that never was: 'At first I thought I would talk about a "gathering of ailing-bodies"'.

2) The year before he passed away, one of the founding members of the Japanese artist collective Dumb Type, Furuhashi Teiji (1960-1995), created an installation work, Lovers (1994), in which projected nude bodies emerge and disappear, triggered by motion sensors. The triggering of a sensor restarts any given looped projection, leaving a section of choreography unplayed. The more moving bodies in the space, the shorter the loops, the longer the suspended tail-ends of footage. The possibilities of real physical encounters gradually replace those of digital ones. Asked to summarise Lovers in a word, Furuhashi suggested it would be 'to dive with courage into a sea of new human relations', yet he did so with reluctance, concerned that such a summary would read 'like copy for an advertising company'. This is a surprising grumble given the projected texts in Lovers often read as announcements or advertising captions. But these captions, like Furuhashi's one-line summary, both preserve and register the loss of the events they notate.

Rosa van Hensbergen is completing a PHD on movement notation and poetic language in the 1970s-80s. She works comparatively on Japanese, European, and American performance, with a focus on Hijikata Tatsumi, Samuel Beckett, and Yvonne Rainer. She has forthcoming publications on contemporary butoh, and has translated a book on Hijikata's butoh method. She writes, edits, and publishes poetry, and organises and makes performance work. Her most recent poetry pamphlet is In Accident & Emergence (Veer Books, 2015).


 

Manuela Perteghella (The Creative Literary Studio)
TransARTation! Wandering texts, travelling objects
 

TransARTation! Wandering Texts, Travelling Objects is a touring exhibition of translated 'objects', multimedia installations, artists’ talks and site-specific works that opens up a space for artists, poets, writers and communities to explore ideas about translation and art in a variety of ways. The exhibition brings together a heterogeneous group of artists, including writers of texts and translations, poets, visual artists, multimedia artists and performers, creating the opportunity for insightful and fruitful collaboration across the board. The aim of the exhibition is to foster public engagement in investigating how translation, understood from all angles and as a multimodal activity, stimulates and provokes the production of text-objects and works of visual art. It is an opportunity for artists, translators and the public to engage with translation in all its dimensions.

TransARTation! at CRASSH: Dr Manuela Perteghella will talk about the exhibition with reference to translation and multimodality. After her talk, the participants can have a go at translating Denise Riley’s poem ‘Still’ or of any of its pictorial or textual translations.

1.  One Spanish-English visual book ‘Inverted (& Translated) Poem’, by Verónica Gerber Bicecci (visual artist who writes) in collaboration with Anna Milsom (literary translator). ‘Inverted Poem’ is itself the attempt of translating a piece by Mathias Goeritz called ‘Plastic Poem’. The booklet will be available to audiences to read, touch, gaze at.

2.  Apollinaire’s ‘Les Fenêtres’ poem into a city map by poet and artist Ira Lightman, exhibited as a poster.

3.   'City in Translation: Yearning for Turkish’: a dozen photographs with texts of the Turkish language appearing in cities across Europe, by artist Canan Marasligil.

4.  Elise Aru’s  The Shadow’s Skin a translation  of La peau de l’ombre (2004) by Joël Gayraud into an installation of 20 small wooden boxes, inscribed with English text, materials, textures. The public can playfully reassemble, reorder, turn and manipulate the boxes so that they create their own narratives.

5.  Two framed postcard sized artworks by translator, artist and playwright John London, taken from El teatre de la pagina ('The Theatre of Crime' and 'The Theatre of London').

6.  One  fold-out artists’ book: Still in Translation, artist book (2015), produced by Ricarda Vidal, including artwork, poetry and translations by Maria-José Blanco, Robin Bothroyd, Anna Cady, Heather Connelly, Briony Campbell, Molly De Dios Fisher, Bryan Eccleshall, Danielle Emtage, Sophie Heatley, Auriol Herford, Katarina Kelsey, Sharon Kivland, Anna Mace, Domingo Martinez, John Oswald, Selina Parmar, Juneau Projects, Denise Riley, Matt Rowe, Julia Schiefer, Sarah Sparkes, Sam Treadaway, Ricarda Vidal, Madeleine Walton, Nick Wilson.  The book represents the journey of a poem, 'Still' by Denise Riley, translated in a chain by 12 visual artists before being translated back into words in the form of an art-to-poetry-translation game.
 

Dr Manuela Perteghella is a literary translation theorist and arts practitioner. She has published in the field of literary and theatre translation, promoting the theory of translation as a creative and critical practice (Translation and Creativity, 2006; One Poem in Search of a Translator, 2008; Staging and Performing Translation, 2011). She has taught translation studies at university, and worked for theatre companies in a variety of settings, as a translator, script reader, stage manager, administrator. She blogs on The Creative Literary Studio. She is co-curator of TransARTation! Wandering Texts, Travelling Objects, an inter-art exhibition of translated objects (Scotland and England 2017). She is also co-leading a practice-based research project of poetry translation, migration and film art titled ‘Transformations: the impact of (im)migration on the notion of home’ (2017-2018).
https://thecreativeliterarystudio.wordpress.com/  m.perteghella@gmail.com
www.transartation.co.uk, curator@transartation.co.uk


 

Hannah Conway (Composer)
Creative composition workshop: music, ears and instinct
 

In this practical workshop, participants will explore how composers make intuitive decisions, translating narrative, movement or tactile stimuli into music. We will improvise and create new music from scratch in response to a variety of stimuli and discover how decisions made by a musician influence and affect the ears and perceptions of an audience. Are decisions consciously crafted to manipulate the listener? Are they merely instinctive? Ego centric?

H Conway, internationally recognised for her work with some of the worldʼs leading opera houses and orchestras, Hannah has created education projects in eighteen different countries, carving a path as a presenter, composer and music director. She has composed operas in 12 different languages, presented and devised BBC broadcast Proms, conducted shows at the O2 Arena and received commissions from Glyndebourne Opera, the English National Opera, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra Discovery and film work for the Royal Opera House. At the heart of her work always is intense collaboration and musical input from young people. Her recent work includes, The Freedom Game (premiered in the Royal Albert Hall) – a community opera for 1200 performers and a 100-piece orchestra; GIANT, a tree opera for Alexandra Palace Park; Beautiful World for the National Theatre, Abu Dhabi; and Max The Brave for the Barbican. She is sought regularly as a guest artist abroad. currently leading projects for the Groningen Conservatoire, Dutch National Opera and European Network for Opera and Dance. A passionate traveler, Hannah has created new musicals with children from slum communities in Mumbai, taught in Palestinian refugee camps, led work with Bosnian children left traumatized by the war, and continues to collect songs from the street in her travels across the globe including Mali, Tanzania, Guyana, Zambia and Malawi.  www.hannahconway.co.uk