(Dis)oriented Translation | Tradução (Des)orientada

(Dis)oriented Translation, 2017. Video Installation, 3 channels, b/w, sound, 5'48'', loop.

Tradução (Des)orientada, 2017. Video Instalação, 3 canais, p/b, som, 5'48'', loop. 

(Dis)oriented Translation is a 3-channel video installation that explores accuracy limits to translation engines. Video 1 and 2 are the translation of english word “misunderstanding”, starting from the 1st available language in Google Translate app (Afrikaans), and applying the 1st translation to the 2nd language (Albanian), from the 2nd to the 3rd (Amharic), in a progressive process through all 104 languages available on the app. Video 3 is the translation of all Video 2 resulting words to English; and for every new word/meaning, the background color loses a 2.5% percentage of black until reaching full white screen in the last translated word.

The complexities of communication can't be reduced to word-for-word translation. An exceptional translator should be familiar not only with the language, but also with culture, history, tradition and beliefs. Is it possible to teach such things to a computer machine?

The pale shade of grey in Video 3, between black and white, metaphorically represents the long journey a translator needs to go through to reach his intent. He can’t just take a shortcut from the word (black) to its opposite (white). He needs to “unfold” the word’s meaning, reflecting on implicit layers to fully understand it and accurately perform his work. Great thinkers consider translation a form of art. Can a computer produce an artistic masterpiece?