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Fragile Translations: Langauge of/in New Media Art

Claudia Benthien, University of Hamburg

This talk presents and analyzes three new media artworks that deal with the issue and problematics of linguistic and cultural “translation”. The title seeks to mark a double movement: on the one hand, an analysis of language as an aesthetic and “poetic” element of audiovisual, time-based arts and, on the other hand, an examination of different languages and their mutual translations. With reference to recent cultural theory, translation is considered as a fragile and continuous movement – a “trans-formation”, transposition, or transcription – between languages and modalities, media and cultures. All three of the works discussed (an autobiographical, single-channel video by the Palestinian-British artist Mona Hatoum, 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 the 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 to “read” or “comprehend”. The talk is part of an ongoing transdisciplinary research project entitled “The Literariness of New Media Art”, which looks at recent developments within the arts from a literary studies perspective.
Dr. Claudia Benthien is full professor at the Department of Germanic Literatures at the 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, art history and media studies. Her historical foci are the German Baroque, literature around 1800 and contemporary culture.

Monday, May 05, 2014 | 5:15 pm — 7:00 pm
Pigott Hall (Bldg. 260) Room 252

Department of German Studies