Dr Ricarda Vidal was recently one of the presenters at The Cultural Capital Exchange (TCCE) annual conference “Culture, Creativity and the Academy – building a new ‘Grand Partnership'” which took place on 24 June at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Together with the poet Steven J Fowler she held a participatory workshop, “From Image to Text”, in which she invited conference delegates to enter the wonderful world of translation within the fine arts and literature, which is at the heart of her project Translation Games.
The workshop built on a recent Translation Games event, “p.o.w. – translating concrete poetry”, which took place on 5 March at the Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. For this event the artists Sam Treadaway, Katja Knecht and Anna Cady had been asked to translate a concrete poem into scent, sound and film. At the TCCE workshop, participants were asked to translate the filmic translation back into poetry.
The workshop began with a short presentation of the Translation Games project and its outputs, i.e. translations from flash fiction to film, from film to ceramics or choreography, from concrete poetry to scent etc. Participants then discussed the fine line between translation, interpretation, illustration, response and adaptation. What does translation mean within different contexts and how can we define language beyond the linguistic realm? Where does translation begin? Where does it end? And when does it cease to be translation and become something else? Is there an ‘essence’ of the original, which can be grasped and rendered?
Needless to say that no single answer to any of these questions could be found, but, between them, the group arrived at a definition of translation which could be applied to both the linguistic and the artistic realm. This was then tried out in practice as the remainder of the workshop (sadly only 20 minutes!) was dedicated to translating Anna Cady’s filmic translation of Paul Brown’s concrete poem ‘cold’ back into text. While time constraints meant that participants had to limit themselves to drafts rather than finished works, it was nonetheless astonishing how close these drafts came in recreating the atmosphere (the essence?) of the original poem.
The original poem, Anna Cady’s film and the translations produced on 24 June can all be read, seen and watched here: http://translationgames.net/?page_id=346.