Freedom of translation does not acquire its justification through the meaning that must be conveyed. It is the task of fidelity to be freed from the meaning of said delivery and additionally it is the task of the translator to free the language imprisoned in work through the re-creation of the work.
(Benjamin, 1923, p.22)
[ Summery ] Translation is the work of interpreting and deciphering the original object and recreating unknown signs that have not yet been expressed within the object in the translator’s language. This project points out the material limitations of linguistic translation in performing the tasks of translation and explains why translation is essentially an incomplete work. As a partial alternative to this instability, it presented visual translations where diverse languages were used. Following this, it proceeded with a practical-based study, starting with the question of how visual translation through the subjective language of visual translators can eventually visualize the invisible aspects of the object.
Bearing in mind that the translator’s language, the medium and the chosen techniques are closely related to the translator’s intention. In order to understand how the medium has a visual and strategic impact on this translational visualization process, I divided it into graphics, photographs and typography and examined the features of each as a translational tool. As part of a practical approach, I translated a single photograph through these mediums to look at its unique characteristics from personal perspective and to comprehend how it was used in the translation process and affected the interpretation of images. In this experimental process, we can discern that the path of the translator’s access to the image varies depending on the medium. Considering that this is an intuitive judgment of the translator caused by the fact that each medium has different visual features. Visual translation is simultaneously an intimate communication between the medium and the translator. In this sense, this communication could also be a process in which the translator’s intention finds an appropriate agreement with the medium. The project also have shown how various perspectives can be derived from a single image by visualizing the traces of the translator’s memory and intuition with multiple visual mediums and how these perspectives lead to a second creation through the translator’s hands. These translational images enhance the quality of information delivered from traditional linguistic translations and give readers various visual experiences. Also, it leaves readers open questions by being read imperfectly and encourages active image literacy.
However, translational images consequently cannot be an ultimate solution to the fundamental incompleteness of translation since it eventually presents only a partial fragment of the object as one subjective product. Thus, this study is a draft that shows the potential for a medium approach to visual translation to transport significant methodological extensions to the visual communication process. It raises the need for further research on visual translation to be addressed from a more comprehensive and multidisciplinary perspective, including cultural and historical aspects in addition to the medium perspective.
The website was created as a process documentation of the MA Thesis project, 2021 of the Institut Visuelle Kommunikation at The Basel School of Design, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst
:Revealing the invisible aspects from things
through the abstract translational technique
[Concept and Design]
Nicolaj van der Meulen
ABC Monument Grotesk