The commission: translation

 

Translation is a collection of notes, pages from artist sketchbooks, musical scores, and audio files created during 2015/16, produced during research and reflection upon language within an organisation. This digital response, in sound and text, sits as a reply to it’s parent publication, spokenwrittendrawn. 

This commission by Circuit, led by Tate and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, explores language as an aspect of organisational change through my role as Programme Manager for Young People at Tate St Ives, working in conjunction with my practice as an artist. What is it to be an artist at the core of an organisation?  What does that mean, what does it look like and does it make for a different work approach?

 

Translation considers spoken language through a creative process of research, documentation and abstraction, and takes the form of music scores and sound files, a projection work and these pages of text and image. The spoken in all its forms but speech itself.

Remove words to understand the sound.

When we listen to a language we haven’t learned, we can hear it’s rhythm, tempo, register, amplitude, intonation and gesture, if not it’s words. In conversation, spoken words communicate object and context. In the absence of words we instead look to a persons performance and delivery for clues to the substance of an exchange: How do they say something? What is their gesture? What is their sound?

Talk, make a sound, be quiet. Options.

Short sentences of speech were notated at work meetings to gather information on vocal patterns and register, and the rhythm, timing, and emphasis of spoken response and dialogue. Recurring words, sentences, and patterns of speech were translated onto musical staves scribbled in my work diary and notebook. Words were not written, instead recorded only as sound. These short, sketched musical notes were then transcribed by hand, the notes and bars layered, transposed and repeated to create a musical score.

Did I just really hear that?

I don’t understand, write it down.

 

 

Commit your text through an online translator and it reappears in another language, with only some similarity to it’s parent sentence and interpretation.

Translate the translation and you take your chances.

Cut/paste/translate/repeat to distil the reference ………………………

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………and create a work that sounds unlike it’s source, yet utilises the source’s underlying structures.

Through a responsive process of repetition and transposition, and through acts of addition and deletion, the reference to the original is diminished and becomes a response to itself. Sentences are translated through this responsive and shifting process, and musical bars are transcribed into a score.

 

 

The scores have live performance instructions for the site specific arrangement of musicians within a space. Instruments are separated across physical space creating individual, unamplified, musical voices and monologues, the entirety of the score only heard  by the audience when standing in a particular spatial position. For the musicians, the line of sight to a conductor (absent) or other musicians is interrupted, leaving only the distant sound of other instruments as a cue for timing and response. A potential for off or mis-timing creates live pause, interruption and uncertainty: This deviation from the score should not be considered as a mistake, but as an irreproducible and living performance.

 

 

 

 

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