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Fragile Translations: Languages of/in Media Art


From: Thursday, March 26, 2015, 03:00pm

To: Thursday, March 26, 2015, 05:00pm

Department of Germanic, Russian, and East European Languages & Literatures

172 College Avenue - Seminar Room

Workshop with Claudia Benthien

Fragile Translations: Languages of/in Media Art

This essay presents and analyzes three media artworks that deal with the issue and problematics of linguistic and cultural ‘translation.’ With reference to recent cultural theory, translation is considered as a fragile and volatile movement—a ‘trans-formation,’ transposition, or transcription—between languages and modalities, media and cultures.  All three works discussed (an autobiographical, single-channel video by the Palestinian-British artist Mona Ha-toum, a net art piece by the Korean-American artist collective You-Hae Chang Heavy Industries and a video installation by the Bosnian-German artist Danica Dakić) combine visual, acoustic, and iconic elements of language and address fundamental differences between languages, which are also partly based on divergent script systems. Through the simultaneity of languages and modalities, these three works seek to create an aesthetic excess that challenges the recipient’s abilities of reading and comprehension.

Claudia Benthien is Professor at the Department of Germanic Literatures, University of Hamburg. She is a widely published specialist in German literature and culture from 1600 to the present whose work focuses on cultural theory, gender studies, intellectual history, aesthetics as well as performance and intermedial studies. Her most recent book examines the intersection of notions of shame and guilt cultures around 1800 with close readings of four tragedies by Schiller and Kleist (Tribunal der Blicke. Kulturtheorien von Scham und Schuld und die Tragödie um 1800 [‘The Tribunal of the Gaze: Tragedy around 1800 and Cultural Theories of Shame and Guilt’]; Böhlau publishers, 2011). She has also published a monograph on the rhetoric and performativity of silence in the 17th century (Barockes Schweigen. Rhetorik und Performativität des Sprachlosen im 17. Jahrhundert; Fink publishers, 2006) and is the author of Skin: On the Cultural Border between Self and the World (Columbia UP, 2002). Professor Benthien’s current research project, “The Literariness of New Media Art,” analyzes the aesthetics of oral and scriptural language in emerging forms of artistic expression. She is also head of the research project “’Performing Poetry.‘ Medial Translations and Situational Framings,” and principal investigator of the interdisciplinary graduate school “Vergegenwärtigungen” [‘Realizations’] that considers representations of the Shoah in comparative perspective.


Germanic, Russian and Eastern European Seminar Room
172 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ, 08901


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Events sponsored by the Center for Cultural Analysis are free and open to the public, unless specifically noted

made possible with the generous co-sponsorship of the Department of German