The untranslatable, a poetic place
AffiliationCentre for Ideas
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr. Utako Shindo
This research project is concerned with ‘the untranslatable', which I identify as that which, in art, resists translation into everyday language yet touches me lovingly and truthfully. Through a manner of ‘poetic translation’ that is experiential and reflective as well as semantic and material, and by questioning how an artwork can embody the untranslatable, the project develops concepts to think about the untranslatable and to articulate its presence within an installation artwork that allows for new meanings to enter through audiences’ engagement with the work. Informed by philosophical, theoretical and artistic works that share concerns with the oppositional and draw our awareness towards neutral, subtle and nuanced appearances and understandings of the world, the research investigates the poetic works of art that liberate and provoke our perception and sense of being in this life-world. The research is undertaken through my experiencing and reflecting on these elements: my grandmother’s poetic enunciation about Mt. Aso, shifting shadows of an acrylic cube (a remnant), and Jacques Derrida’s interpretation of chora and ma as a place for ranslation/transference, which is untranslatable. This process, which in turn draws resonant voices from various disciplines, not limited to either Western or Eastern knowledge, to ancient or contemporary time, to one side or one sex, is manifested in my art-making and thesis writing; my artworks inspire and test my thesis, together investigating these five key concepts: ‘Pure Language’, the ‘Poetic’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Transference’ and ‘Embodiment’. As anyone struggles with that which resists translation in art, The Untranslatable, a Poetic Place, is written for both artists and audiences. Within the context of this thesis, ‘the untranslatable’ can be best defined as the life that drifts as it metamorphoses and transforms our experience in and reflection on the world in a more rich and poetic manner. As it ‘transfers’ in variant ways, it can only be embodied temporarily by the poetic work of art; in a poetic language that contains ‘fertile silence’, an architectural body that internalises emptiness/hollowness, or an enduring form of love that longs for motherhood. This embodiment is perceived and experienced as ‘shadow light’ (as truthful, an aid to knowledge) that shifts; an ambiguous image that shimmers; a nuance of love that trembles; or a poetic place that opens.
Keywordsinstallation art; 'chora'; 'ma'; the untranslatable; translation; the poetic; silence; shadow; perception; knowledge; transference; 'utsuru'; image; transformation; audience; metamorphosis; longing; life; 'hoka'; external, embodiment; place; Benjamin; Derrida; Berman; Mitsugi; Irigaray; Izutsu; Tanizaki; Martin; Isozaki; Casati; Matsuoka; Didi-Huberman; Kamei; Rilke
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