Cross-cultural Metaphor and the Online Environment: Projects-2006-2008, Berlin, Tokyo and the U.S

By Scott Townsend.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The global economy exchanges goods, services, and information through technological and commercial networks that transcend national borders, while traditional ideas of cultural identity and language are challenged by global migration. Personal identity and cultural affiliation come to the foreground in this new environment. Translation has new consequence, and the meaning of culturally specific representations embedded within it is key. This paper outlines ideas of “embodied translation.” Embodied translation may be contrasted with technical or direct translation of one language to another by an emphasis on identity construction, the performative qualities of language, and the consequence of emotional identification and affect by the reader with the subject matter. In a larger sense, the use of story schemas may also augment a critical evaluation of the differences between histories and beliefs embedded in specific cultures. Case studies are cited that help illustrate the use of “embodied translation.” These projects use the physical context of a gallery while combining audiences at a distance simultaneously online, presenting issues of immigration and identity construction, in the site specific environments of Tokyo, Prague, Berlin, the USA, and other cultural contexts. The projects are digitally interactive, allowing different audiences to respond to the content and have their answers shown in collective visualizations in real time.

Keywords: Translation, Cross-cultural Design, Interaction, Immigration, Identity Politics

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.51-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.209MB).

Scott Townsend

Associate Professor, Department of Graphic Design, College of Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA

Scott Townsend’s research focuses on the issues of personal identity and history, and the use of narrative and imagery. His work is divided between academically based research and electronically based projects, and other hybrid practices between different media and disciplines. In the last six years this has taken the form of specific projects, concentrating on issues of immigration and globalization. These projects often deal with language translation and site-specificity, working with another audience at a distance/online. In the last twelve years, he has exhibited in over 60 national and international group and solo exhibitions in the Czech Republic, Havana, Mexico City/Tijuana (as part of Borderhack, an event that grew out of Documenta X in Europe), Edmonton, Berlin, Hamburg, Maracaibo (Venezuela), Tokyo, New York, and Chicago, and has created visual projects and authored writings for such journals and publications as Zed, Contact Sheet (Light Work), Statements, Brujula, Art Papers, Visual Communication, and Design Issues. He has recently completed the site-specific project “Your Imaginary Country; the Berlin Wall and the South West United States” in central Berlin. A follow on visual project will be published in February in the international journal Visual Communication (Sage; London and New York).

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