No. 249

散文翻译 Translated Essay

By : Eva He

Entrant’s location : United Kingdom


用谷歌翻译,从简体中文到英文再从英文到中文翻译一篇随笔,循环往复直到文本不再受翻译影响。共翻译十二次。 Use Google translate to translate an essay from Simplified Chinese to English and then from English to Chinese , and loop back until the text is no longer affected by the translation. Twelve times in total.

What did you create?

The piece is an artist book I made out of an essay that I translated 12 times between Mandarin and English through Google Translate. The book is made of tracing paper and all characters hand-copied from the pages.document. By juxtaposing the trivial sentiment of the essay and handwriting with the rigid functionality of the mechanical translator, I aim to open up a discussion on the over-estimated positivity on technology and multi-cultural globalization. It is my intention to further develop this work into a computer programme, where, when you input a text, it will produce an alteration of the text after the same translating process.

Why did you make it?

I created this piece to experiment with the mal-function of today's translating mechanism, google translate, and exploit the mechanism to an extent to show its extreme. As a bilingual individual, I always find it hard to translate a thought in certain language to another. And it is my firm belief that there always will be something at lost if people rush to supplement one language with another, especially when the translating process is simplified to an algorithm. To push my experience to an extreme, I spoiled my own poetry with the machine and exploited the machine to show its inability. The bit-by-bit information lost is unfolded page-by-page on the tracing paper, contrasting with the sentimental materiality of the paper and the handwritten character.

How did you make it?

I had a piece of poetry writing of mine, google translated it from Mandarin to English. Then from English to Mandarin. The second Mandarin piece is a bit different from the original text. Thus I repeated the back-and-forward process until the text does not alter itself anymore. Twelve times translation was done and documented. I hand-copied the documentation of the process on tracing paper and made it into an artist book. In this book, the small alterations between texts show themselves as shadow-like smudge, adding another layer of the experience of the work.

Your entry’s specification

artist book, A5, tracing paper 20 pages