Translation (1997) bears the traces of a series of transformations, transfers and passages between media, each with different historical determinations. The starting point is a Thomas Edison film entitled Panorama of Beach and Cliff House (1903) in which one can see one of the first panoramic camera movements.
Reminiscent Roland Barthes’ allusion to the mythological story of the ship Argo, where over years of successive voyages each and every element that comprises the ship is replaced until nothing of the original material referent remains except its name, this project is thought of as a kind of shell which contains an iteration in the life of an evolving set of materials subjected to a prolonged series of operations.
In the course of its history, Panorama of Beach and Cliff House has been many things. During cinema’s first decade, Edison sneakily bypassed the lack of copyright on films by using the copyright intended for photographs. To stake a claim on authorship, he had a print made in the form of one long roll of photographic paper that included every individual film still. At specific moments in the life of these images, the “original” was lost, the paper prints were refilmed, first onto 16mm film stock then 35mm, before being transferred to video, which was subsequently digitized, eventually finding its way onto the Internet. A long drawn-out remediated series, each step referencing distinct histories and archives, real and imagined.
Translation reverses this logic. The film is downloaded, at a time when this was excruciatingly long, and digital film stills are then selected and organized spatially as a 4 meter-long computer printout. As with Déplacement, this shift from the verticality of the original film stock to the horizontality of a panoramic photograph, brings to light a latent image existing only in the intervallic space of translation.
Black and white ink jet print, 400cm x 50cm