• Translating practice

Connolly, Brigit, 2018, Thesis, Translating practice PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Translatability and translation, the possibility and act of conveying some
thing between people, objects, languages, cultures, times, spaces and
media, have become increasingly important elements of creative practice
and works of art. My research explores this proposition. To contextualise
this concept of translation as an artistic and critical method mediating the
relationship of the seeable to the sayable I retrace an under-mined vein of
translation that grew from the Enlightenment, the Early (Jena) Romantic
response to it and its subsequent development through Walter Benjamin
to other modern theorists. I suggest that this tradition of translation has
developed into a creative method that assumes a pre-existent given from
which it evolves in order to destabilise, re-appropriate and make-new.
The thesis argues that art has come to occupy the space of translation and
proposes that an interpretative mode is ultimately antithetical to a form of
thought engaged with in the creative process. This relies on the
understanding of a qualitative distinction between acts of translation as
presentational and of interpretation as representational. The distinction is
not clear-cut since these two forms of mediation operate on a continuum.
The probable root of “interpret” in English is “between prices” and
derives from trade. This etymology stresses the transactional, hermeneutic
role of the interpreter as a responsive agent that negotiates between
distinct value systems to ensure equivalence during the process of
exchange. While Interpretation operates primarily within the symbolic
aspect of language translation retains a relationship to metaphor, which
acknowledges that during transfer something becomes something that it
literally is not. It must therefore also account for Aporia, or what fails to
cross over and for a-signifying, singular aspects that affect or alter the
symbolic during this process. In contrast to interpretation, translation’s
relation to subjectivity, its resistance to schematisation and reduction to
the accurate, objective and rational transfer of information provides a
prophylaxis of doubt and generates heterogeneity.
The thesis triangulates my practices as artist, translator and critic using
translation to destabilise and re-calibrate the relationship of theory to
practice. In relation to theory, rather than use this to explain, interpret, or
categorize art, it advocates the translational practice of placing in parallel
so that lines of thought may be drawn from one to the other, responding
to and setting up points of intersection, divergence and congruence to
encourage a non-hierarchical associative-dissociative dismantling.
Translation informs the research method, structure and content of the
thesis, which occupies an inter-theoretical, inter-disciplinary or matrixial
space. As such, it is edified through a process that derives from and
displays the translational method and diverse sources that constitute it.
Four case studies bring together practices employing a translational
method from different periods, cultures, creative practices and theoretical
sources: Bernard Leach and Ezra Pound’s modernist projects; Jorge Luis
Borges’ theory of translation and Briony Fer’s re-presentation of Eva
Hesse’s studio work; the Brazilian poets Haroldo and Agosto De Campos’
theory of Cannibalistic translation and painter Adriana Varejao’s work
with tiles; and ceramicist Alison Britton in light of Donald Winnicott’s
concept of transitional spaces.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 16:33
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:49
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3460
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