Translations and Mental Tasks (Installation)

Francesco Gagliardi

2008, colour


Based on an ongoing series of video performances, the installation juxtaposes videos of people performing silent mental tasks (proving a theorem of set theory, reading a music score) with videos of people involved in the process of translating literary texts.

Translations and Mental Tasks
addresses the notion of mental tasks as a form of performance and explores the negotiations, slippages in meaning, misunderstandings, and power dynamics involved in any process of translation – understood literally as the actual translation of a text, or more broadly as the trans-coding of a literal, visual or performative text into a different medium.

Version A
Mental Task 3 + Translation 3

Version B
Mental Task 3 + Translation 3 + Translation 6

Version C
Mental Task 3 + Translation 3 + Translation 6 + Mental Task 4

Summary of Videos:
Mental Task 3: Cantor-Bernstein-Schröder Theorem
HDV video, color, sound, 2007, 26:05.
A logician proofs a theorem of set theory on the blackboard.

Translation 3: Max Frisch: Tagebuch 1971
HDV video, color, sound, 2007, 38:10.
A native speaker of German translates an excerpt form Max Frisch’s 1971 diary, in which the Swiss writer muses with the notion of
Heimat (home country).

Translation 6: Shuang Shuang Yan
HDV video, color, sound, 2008, 48:34.
A Chinese Canadian family gathered around the dinner table translates the text of a songs while consuming an elaborate dinner; the song, a Mao-era tale of love and autarchy, was used as part of a 1959 Chinese film entitled
Where is our Home?

Mental Task #4: Relly Raffman: The Secular Masque
HDV video, color, sound, 2007, 20:07.
A musician silently reads the score of one of her father’s compositions.

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