Heather Connelly                                                    homepage   about   current   projects  exhibitions   research   contact


text it doesnt trnaslate well



Speaking through the voice of another - The Experience of Translation

Phd by Fine Art Practice at Loughborough University School of the Arts

Supervised by Dr J Hallsten, School of the Arts, external advisor Maggie O'Neill Durham University


image of performance in Park Tunnel, nottingham
image of particiants discussing project in Park Tunnel
Transversation a collaborative performance between Heather Connelly and Zalfa Feghali for New Research Trajectories in the Park Tunnel, Nottingham. December 2010. Photographs by Rachel Walls


I am currently researching 'How can art practice be used to draw attention to and harness the creative potential of the translation process ‘in action‘ and how can this ‘in-between’ space (between two languages) be utilised in order to provoke new ways of thinking about the transformations and transitions that happen ‘in’ translation and the individuals’ relationships with the practice of translation?'

I am using, what R Jakobson refers to as inter-linguistic translation as my starting point i.e. what happens when a text in one 'natural language', is 'rewritten' or 'transformed' into another 'natural language' (Torop, 2002:600).

I am focusing on Oral translation and will be using ‘the voice’ as my main medium: experimenting with performance, video, various settings and contexts in order to create ‘art works’ that examine, demonstrate, respond to, synthesise and utilise my theoretical, practical and reflective research.

I will begin by investigating the multifaceted dimensions, conscious and subconscious activities that are involved in the translation processes in addition to it’s intended outcome, byproducts whilst also researching the individuals’ relationships with the practice of translation.  I am interested in the interplay of equivalences, correspondence, assimilation, linguistic and non-linguistic aspects of translation, in addition to the perceived failures notions of untranslatability and the different positions/perspectives of the individuals involved.  I hope to use both the concept and process as material as a method for making artwork. My practice is dialogic and becoming increasingly performative.

The most up to date documentation and information about my research can be seen at http://voiceofanother.wordpress.com/

Most of my work depends upon working with multilingual speakers or translators and I am keen to hear from anyone who is interested in sharing their subjective experiences of Translating or Translation, or collaborating online or face to face. I can be contacted at h.connelly2@lboro.ac.uk


I have been inviting translators, interpreters and bi/multilingual speakers to respond to the following questions:

        • How would you describe your relationship with translation?
        • Can you describe the process of translation? subjectively and any specific conditions/procedures you put into place?
        • What do you think happens in this gap (supposing that there is one) that you inhabit?
        • Are there any particular characteristics about the languages you translate?
        • What is the most important thing about translation for you?


Speaking through the voice of another in Practice

I see my art practice as research and have made a number of works using the 'site of the conference' or as the catalyst to make site specific work that respond to academic conference themes. A selection of works produced so far can be seen below:

image of Im translator performing my paper

Speaking through the voice of another I - July 2010

A performative lecture devised for Revisions, Loughborough University School of Arts postgraduate conference. I employed a number of avatars to deliver my paper, using the free internet translation website http//www.imtranslator.com. During the performance many of the words became 'foreignised' and 'unrecognisable' aurally due to their accents and the fact that they have been processed 'transliteratively'. Thus the English speaking aundience became uncomfortable as they struggled to comprehend what was being said, thereby placing the monolingual English speakers in a similar position to the 'foreign language' speaker.



hand holding business card

Speaking through the voice of another II - July 2010

A series of non-functional business cards, each featuring a translation of the phrase I am rarely the author of my own words', which featured in the conference paper. The phrase has been passed through several languages and been back translated. Each card presents a subtle shift in meaning.


photographs of entrance to museum in tartu

Listen to sound sample

Speaking through the voice of another III - November 2010

Consisted of two projects that I made in response to a call for papers for the Culture in Mediation: Total Translation, Complementary Perspectives conference, Tartu University, Estonia 26th-27th November 2010. Both projects were culturally specific and designed to investigate the translation phenonomena further.

The image above, shows the foyer of the Tartu History Museum, where the first day of the conference took place. I installed a soundwork that I made whilst in Estonia, which was heard through two speakers. The work was developed from an 'interpreter mediated' encounter that I intitiated between myself and an Estonia speaker, in order for me to expereince being translated. I recorded the proceedings, and interviewed the translator, and translated my own reflections upon the encounter, which I then edited to produce a piece that revealed the process and different expereinces of translation through practice.

See http://voiceofanother.wordpress.com/news/ for more details


booklets on museum desk estonian language translation

Translating Tartu - November 2010

Evolved out of a number of internet conversations, that I initiated, with Tartu residents (non of whom I had previously known). I posted a call via facebook, departmental mailing lists, language learning sites etc. for participants willing to enter into a dialogue in English with me about Tartu, the Estonian Language and culture. I collated the responses together and edited the texts, passing some of them through translation software, which I made into a small booklet, samples of the pages from the book can be seen above and below.



text - i am two people



Transversation I - December 2010

Transversation consisted of two short experimental 'performances', performed and created collaboratively between Heather Connelly and Zalfa Feghali, exploring the translation phenomenon, created specifically in response to Park Tunnel, Nottingham (as featured in photograph above).

The collaboration was formed through meeting at New Research Trajectories meetings and the works were specifically devised for the December event. The works draw upon common ground that Zalfa and I found within our research and more general interests. For Zalfa it was a chance to explore in practice what she has been researching for her Phd.

zalfa speakingdiscussion in cavezalfa and heather

Photographs by Rachel Walls

Part I - Feghali began to decend from the staircase in the central area of the tunnel, speaking in Arabic, as I repeated what I heard, as best I could to the audience gathered below. The text was an edited compilation of text excepts from Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities', which were modified and edited for this performance.

Part II - This piece played with the echoic properties of the tunnel. We traversed the length of the tunnel, taking it in turns to enunciate words associated with Translating, I spoke in English and Zalfa in Arabic, Greek and French. Attempting to communicate with each other and reach some sort of understanding. Using the physical space between us to draw attention to this seemingly invisible process.

Both pieces served to provoke discussion about the expereince of translation - and purposefully challenged the audience to try to understand, make sense and interpret what was being said- happening. There was a discussion that followed the performances.


see http://voiceofanother.wordpress.com/collaborative-projects/ for further details


lee and heather performing

Heather Connelly and Lee Campbell performing at Beyond Text: Making and Unmaking event

Speaking through the voice of another IV - January 2011

Heather Connelly continued to collaborate with Zalfa Feghali to produce a performative work, that further explored the practice and process of translation for the Beyond Text- Making and Unmaking event (another AHRC post graduate funded project) which took place at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, London 27th-29th January 2011.

Connelly and Feghali worked together over a period of two weeks to create a multi modal dialogue about translation, through translation. The work was disseminated via an online project space http://voiceofanother.tumblr.com/ and as a series of performative interruptions, in between presentations throughout the day.

The process and format of the work was shaped by the circumstances under which the collaboration was made, e.g. busy schedules that meant we needed to work remotely and the fact that Zalfa was unable to be present at the event in London.

Connelly edited a text, that comprised of various descriptions and properties associated translation that she had previously fed through numerous translation programme. This poetic text was then fed through a variety of online translation sites, and passed as audio files and texts files between us.

The work was presented in five 'acts' during the event. The initial text was read by live by Connelly in English and then by Zalfa, via a CD in Arabic. Two avatars read subseqent translations via CD and another act featured fragmented words in Arabic and English played randomly on the CD. The final act was performed by Lee Campbell, Heather Connelly and an absent Zalfa on CD.


me behind a pillar

Click below to hear sound samples









visit: http://voiceofanother.tumblr.com/ for more information, samples of the work and sound files


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