Review #3: Translation

Translation by John Cayley is a form of ambient visual media bordering on poetry with the conceptual idea of interchangeability between languages. The statement the author makes with the piece is that all latin based languages are interchangeable. This is written within the lines of the poem/statement that is the basis of the piece. Translation is really just “continuous forms of transformation.” It is through “media of varying densities” that the languages of the western world are connected. News, movies, and books being the staple of modern society, these medias are translated and transformed daily to repeat the exact same messages only rearranged into new words and sounds.

The interactivity of this particular piece represents the availability for translation by the viewer. As in nearly any electronic media translation is available by merely the click of a button, just as in the piece. The difference is that by TV, radio, or the internet this click of a button instantly transforms the language by way of subtitle, switching the channel, or sometimes as in the case of certain web pages, transforming all of the words instantly while maintaining the previous background. In Translation the words are rearranged very slowly, an effect which simulates the digital mind of a computer transforming words from one language to another in a state of decelerated time. The ambient noise that accompanies the moving letters is as jumbled as the piece itself. Sounds which if arranged in a different order or for different lengths of time could create music are arranged in a discombobulated array of noise. Noise which after time becomes increasingly trying.

The images in the left hand column accompany the text the way pictures pictures, video, and graphics accompany words both spoken and written in the many medias of today. They act as flare to accompany the bleak black and white visual of the written word. As the text changes so do the patterns, they are like letters possibly forming the same words through a language never invented save by maybe the author of the piece. It is understandable that the latin alphabet to a person or being who has never experienced it previously would too look like a collection of symbols with unknown meanings. To a being of a foreign background the images on the left of the piece would have no more or less meaning than the letters on the right. Merely a shapeshifting group of symbols. When the message does materialize on the page in whichever language the viewer chooses it is presented with a layout similar to a poem. This gives the statement an artistic ambience and leaves the viewer to perhaps consider the piece in new ways other than just a message about translation.

The most interesting aspect of the piece is the way in which the statement is delivered. An original idea for this message the presentation is very in depth and poetic, the problem for me being that unlike many other pieces of e lit, the delivery is far too slow. I understood from the instructions about choosing my preferred language what the piece was going to be about and I found that I had to wait far too long for the result. This effect did lead me on in anticipation as to how the final message was to read exactly because the words materialized letter by letter keepng the reader constantly guessing, but once I had read the English version I hardly had the patience to sit and wait until the letters were transformed into German or French. I enjoyed the piece but it is most certainly a one time ordeal.


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