|forth year: 2001/2002||series of lectures: lectures / conversations with lecturers / lecturers|
Our theme tonight is prevod,
which means translation, and tonight I am going to try to pass on to you
an impression why translation is an important issue today.
Personally, I factually identify on several levels, because I grew up with four languages, which is the most basic, simple, rational explanation of what translation personifies. I grew up with Italian, French, English and German and moved from one country to the other, which, of course also meant that I worked and lived in totally different social and other contexts. I never chose, I never wanted a closed group, a community of solely artists, or, it was never my desire (even though being successful as a part of a community, and even though many people believe that it is ideal to be a part of something) to be recognised in something. I thought that it was important to be a translator, to transfer the meaning on different levels between these exclusive communities. These clubs continue today, and a strong club mentality is evident also in Ljubljana. I think that the art community is a kind of a club with it's own ghettoisation, it is closing down, it is the selective principle which chooses the level of quality. The uniformity, the sectorism of the 80's, which you have experienced also in Slovenia, resembles a heavy machine, which is slightly out of date. Through this ghettoised viewpoint the external is distorted and prejudice is very common. Like you know, the Mac users hate PC users, and so clubs emerge. However, mainly if we have a choice, we prefer to choose our communities and we choose our ghettos, we choose our families, we choose our loves (even though we have a basic attraction to incest, and incest as a closed system is basically opposed to success within a society because the only success we know in society today is basically competitiveness, whether you have a technical system or a social system which is out of the cage able to communicate with another one). The question is how to communicate and for what to communicate. But basically being competitive is success and it is interesting that social success today, especially in the last 10 years, is equivalent to economic success. Now, naturally everything is relative and woven into a context, the traditional values are a bit, or to a greater extent, divided. The visual language is inflated. Like the icons and the contents of the visual language,...(we have a visual problem here, which is connected to "techniques", again a problem of translation),... the icons, maybe the television screen is an icon too, but let us say flags, monuments, symbols have lost their values and these values can no longer be grasped in this sense, as are the ethical institutions, for the ethical institutions were supposed to, at a certain point, define the visual values. They are disorientated, because we have a visual overflow and we have enormous difficulties following the evolution and the fast adaptation. The speed of adapting to permanently changing values has become accelerated, it is a fluid, permanently changing system and as a consequence the generation of today has problems with their visions and contents, and the value and the visual forms, or let's say icons have been degraded to traffic signs. In the traditional iconastasis the icon was adored, as a translation into holiness or into the spiritual world, it was a description of how to enter the spiritual world. But today it has become something invisible, and with the introduction of electricity, which is something invisible, the god-like electricity has created fear and the fear has created a problem in the positioning of the integrity or contents, as this can not be grasped. The total transparency, through media, the total transparency of knowing everything, also god-like, being god-like through electricity, the total transparency, the total knowledge, the total visible manifestation of Hermes, Hermes who sees everything has created the loss of the secret. The loss of the secret is also the total transparency in the sense of the loss of the holy and the total transparency of the holy and having no more secrets has produced cynicism which is the last intellectual achievement of the occidental. In cynicism we can criticise everything because we know everything, but we do not know how to do things any more because knowing that everything is not valuable and because I am a perfect critic and I know everything, why should I do something, when I see that everything is shit. Cynicism is a wonderful achievement, it is the death of activism. In the net, in the Internet, we do not have traces anymore and we also have nothing left to grasp. We do not have history, we do not have patina, we do not have digital dust anymore, the digital dust which makes things valuable through time; it is timeless, the digital thing is timeless. The refusal is not enough. It is also the criticism of activism, in this sense it also creates a confusion because people do not know in what to invest and so we do not know what quality is, we kind of prefer to do nothing. I will wait until I get a better situation and then sort of decide, or if I get,... how do you say,... I do not want to go into love, I kind of fall into it and if I fall into it, it is a kind of quality because I am not responsible and I was so hammered by quality that it must be something true. Well in our past we had a lot of problems with that too. With Group Van Gogh TV we were a bit advanced in the quality of contexts, the society, or art community, or whatever, expected certain things from us and so we started with Piazza virtuale, which premeditated the net, people said it was too boring because art is supposed to be entertaining, and funny enough, entertaining is a culture connected to entertainment and there is no more work in culture. In German you have the difference between U and E, (u is synonym for popular music, e is synonym for serious or classical music) for example music and copyright, if you do entertaining music, U music, it means you get less money in comparison to serious music (E) activity. U and E, the difference of what is serious or not, is also... in German you say the word Unterhaltung (entertainment), means 'under integrity', and there is a word maybe you could invent, Überhaltung, which means kind of 'integrity over it'. But this thing of dividing, also on the level of translation, who decides what is serious and what is not serious today and who decides this quality in this time gap of doing things at a moment when nobody else perceives them and in the duration time gap you are basically dead, that is why we called ourselves Van Gogh TV, because Van Gogh is dead and when he was alive, his art meant nothing. In time translation also creates values, so sometimes we miss the live existing values. In culture, information is not seen as work so that is why we have this entertaining 'enter- under, -over- training' society, it is not seen as work, and we live in a strange culture, or a strange social context, where work is not supposed to come into culture so it becomes infotainment, which is extremely light, which is only air, or it becomes really popular and then it is not serious enough or basically just too old because who wants to hear this song, when we have better pop-music.
Another big mistake made in society confuses the difference between information and knowledge. A lot of people look at television and think that by seeing something on television or finding something on the net they already have the nascent knowledge. But information is something like a recipe, you see something but this does not mean that it can be grasped, and information and knowledge are like those two eggs; (one raw /one cooked) you see them, they both look the same, and this is most probably the difference between information and knowledge. In our media society and our wonderful education, in our western world they are perceived as if it they were the same.
On the level of translation,
people also have the problem of perceiving what is real. I have experienced
meeting many kids and when something really hammering happened, they said
'oh, fuckin' hell, that was like in a film'.
You have classical translation
on a technical level, which serves as a bridge, which is language translation.
This is a traditional thought concerning what translation is supposed
to be. But then we have to consider another thing, we have developed in
the last years, the new media, which we thought was a realistic media,
in the same way we started believing photography was realism and kind
of pictured reality. We thought the same thing when film came along and
we thought the same thing with video, but the medium also creates a filter.
This means that the technical medium you use translates something differently.
You just take an example, you've been at a nice concert, you made a nice
video, you made a nice video of a super concert. I don't know who was
at the concert of Nick Cave the other day and thought it was great because
he looks good maybe, then you made a video out of it and showed it to
your best friend. You look at the same video, and you say 'oh, man this
is totally boring, this video!' so you know as a matter of fact the medium
is a filter. When you've seen it live, you realise there are elements
which are filtered out through technical media and I call this 'the filter
of the media mystic'. OK, basically we can not talk with the new media
about real or reality or virtual reality, I think that is bullshit. There
are no different realities because we have created all of them, or nature
has created all of them, so basically everything is real. I think that
everything is real and that there is no discussion about different realities
because if I look at the life of a fly which lives for a day and the life
of a dog which lives 12 years and I live maybe 60 years, and the timing
is totally shifted and different, yet we are all real, basically, even
though we have shifted timings.
We also have the tradition of guests and hosting, on the level of translation and travelling. The contemporary guest culture is generally a selection principle, when we say, well,... what will I profit by this person?, is he going to bring me business?, am I going to get that woman into bed?, is she going to sleep with me?, am I going to make business with him?, so the traditional, also the network thing, the networking, the traditional networking was not only connected to these profit values which we have today. Today these transports, or these guest houses, are paid with money, so it is the same with hotels. The traditional culture of guests is the culture of hotels today. This means that all this culture of connecting through personal obligation has become something where we pay for hospitality and it becomes impersonal, it becomes the place of immobility. I pay for my taxi and I can ride alone, I am not ridding in the bus anymore. And we have also increased the architecture which is connected to transport, transport is very close to translation, it parallels the trans-local, this place of mobility connected to the media has brought us vacations, through television brought other cultures to us and has created an identity problem for us. How would you describe a Slovenian hippie who goes to India, has studied in America and is earning his money in Graz with illegal work? So what is his identity? Or what is the identity of a Slovenian who makes transport business with Belgrade and is trying to make his business slightly better through the war situation? What kind of identity, what kind of a family in the sense of translation do these people have? I know I am asking a lot of questions, because the fact of being trans-national is the truth. Trans-national also means that you don't have Slovenian folklore anymore because you don't like Yugoslav folklore, some of you might like Tito, some of you will never sing the song of Tito again, and you prefer... they don't even like Laibach anymore, they just like, I don't know, techno, and so a morphing of identity, the best music at home, private and public, is to listen to organic grooves (trance popgroup), and which identity do these people have? And again, in the future, we have to make a fundamental difference between information and knowledge, and a job of the future will certainly be to differentiate between knowledge guides, which are extremely practical, and between info guides, who are basically people who just give you the information. Or what information translates into, what is the difference, and why sometimes having sex with my collaborator is something which makes the work better or sometimes, in the sense of translation, makes the work worse. It makes it impossible to work with somebody with whom you fucked in the same office and then you see him every day.
On the other level, besides
those values of power, politics, posing all those contexts like, job,
career, there has been a tradition in religion called for the 'gods',
i.e. giving a certain percentage of your earned money, not for drinking,
but for investing in the gods for nothing, without thinking of the profit
margins which you might have, and this, for example is also the same with
guests. This new investment, which we probably need for our sins, is 10
percent. 10 percent of every functioning culture and society is invested
into the gods, is given to the temple. In the old religions, in India,
in Asia, they still give, even if they are very poor, they give without
any question of profit, 'what do I gain from it' they give 10 percent
of their income to the gods (or to the temples), which creates a culture
of giving. Naturally there is also the profit mentality, that eventually,
if I give something, maybe some day I will get something back too. Now
in this sense of investment, how do you evaluate the importance of your
neighbours, how many of you communicate with your neighbours, how many
of you really have a local interest around you, or are you just interested
in your favourite music which is from New York? Do you feel responsible
for the others, for your neighbours, what shit do you give about your
neighbours, why don't you invest into your neighbours ?
In this problem of contexts
you could also take the example which I'd like to give about a Turkish
man going to Berlin. This Turkish man is working as a guest-worker in
Germany and he has a wife promised, a promised wife, which he has never
touched, never kissed and every month he sends money to this family. It
is really hard work, people treat him like shit, because he is Turkish,
people are racist towards him, and then he goes to a disco, and he meets
a blonde woman, a wonderful gorgeous lady, and he dances with her and
they have fun together and he drinks beer with her and they go home together.
They fuck together and he feels, in his context he feels a slight problem,
he says 'oh, she's a slut, she's a prostitute, but she is nice', so he
doesn't know how to translate the fact that this 18 year old woman who
was nice enough to fuck him and who likes him and she starts talking to
him and asks him why is he sending all his fucking money back to Turkey,
why doesn't he use it for himself. Why is he not spending it, it is him
who should have fun, and he shouldn't work. And this man gets very confused
in his system and he is, like in the Medusa-syndrome, petrified. And we
have a similar problem with networks. In the future we will have open
networks where you will say, or where you will discuss, 'I have to be
tolerant, I have to be open to everything, I have to be tolerant to those
fucking Turks, to those fucking Yugoslavs, but basically I don't want
to, but I have to be open, I have to be politically correct, I have to
like everybody, I have to accept all contexts, I have to respect all contexts'.
Or, I say, OK, I don't give a shit about that, I am eclectic, I am not
democratic, and I don't fuckin' want to be democratic and I want to make
some money and I will just make a closed system, I will make a club, I'll
take some fees and people will have to pay and then we will have a closed
system in the future. So these are two variations of the networks which
we have, it is the closed and the open system, both approaching and both
being parallel. Or, the question is also where do we invest in the future.
In an open or in a closed system and I mean, a closed system is also idealised,
'well you know, Slovenian beer is always the best in the world, everywhere
I go, I just choose the Slovenian beer I have at home'. 'I can eat some
Chinese food, I can eat everything, but the cooking of my mother is just
the best'. And in my closed system I will never accept anything else.
And now, the long term investment, also considering why don't we have
universities or courses in university which translate these things, which
translate these topics so that we understand them better and where are
the recipes which explain to us how to use the information we obtain and
how to transfer this information into knowledge, because knowing a recipe
doesn't mean that you know how to cook, and who is going to teach us this
or in the future how will we grasp the fact that art is basically a fraud,
because you create reality using dead material, and this piece of paper
which is nothing, I can't eat it, or anything, and certain people standing
in front of a piece of a paper, find they are moved to tears. So how do
we accept the fact that art is basically artificial?
And now in translation, this serves merely as an example to explain that we have different values in the classical sense of belief or blindness, this ethical fraud involves deceiving ourselves the whole time about what is supposed to be holy, what is supposed to be valuable. The evolution of value is fluid, values just flow away and they change like the stock market every day, the ethical values also shift and change, we have no possibility to screw them down but we need a new grounding point like the shield of Medusa, the mirror. In the future how can we decide what is important, are we allowed to really use all the tools and to bring to an end something which is important, does the goal justify the means we use. And where is the consequence, the end game where you are only a person who sits around and says 'I'll sit and see what happens' while the others sort it out. Where is the end of this contrivance, what has stayed timeless, what can we still keep, what is the music we can still listen to? On the level of value, how do you translate these timeless values, how can we keep them? I mean, it is clear that modernity has one effect, that modernity can only develop on the level of destruction. How do we choose what do we destroy in the future, which building do we destroy, which old building do we destroy, which valuable or not valuable building do we destroy to rebuild it into something new? What are the tools of modernity which help us to continue, to take decisions, to be able to choose in the future? The big problem is we are no longer educated to make choices about what is important because everybody just says 'well that is not so bad, but I've seen something better'. That musician? Not so bad, but I saw a concert that was number 1, and I know that there is an A class. So you are confused like in the Medusa-syndrome, so you don't know where to turn and what to decide and which values get lost in the transport filter. You have modem/ transport, you have two way transport where things pass through a filter and where things get lost in transport.
I was basically trying to inspire
the importance in the field of translation, and I've lived through a number
of symposiums where I realised that the people had forgotten to invite
a translator and I hope that with my little inspiration I have given you
enough points to think about; a higher percentage investment into this
topic is needed, because translation is not only technical, it is also
connected to content. And another thing we have forgotten about tonight,
or in general, is that we have created post-modernism as the concept of
post-modernism, but the reality of post-modernism has only just started
now, and I think we are the people who are going to have to take the responsibility
for it now. So thank you very much.
*Video lecture in a form of audio-visual performance was carried out live behind the spectators and simultaneously projected on the screen in front of them