This is my gift to you, this story that is also a song, these words that are a part of Fokir. Such flaws as there are in my rendition of it I do not regret, for perhaps they will prevent me from fading from sight, as a good translator should. For once, I shall be glad if my imperfections render me visible. —Kanai, the translator in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide
In translation, the voice of the translator is generally considered an imperfection, an inbetween that, almost by definition, generates background noise or static. The original, the ideal, becomes impure. The magical transformation is disturbed, the imperfection an unwanted sign of life disturbing its environment of language.
Part limb or trunk, part processed lumber, these translations of tree forms show signs of humans: tools, furniture, hair, squared and planed lumber. In Crest, branches extend, not from a trunk, but from the legs of a chair that has tipped over backwards. The white desiccated blossoms foam like the crest of a breaking wave. In American Cherry, a species of tree that is part of America’s mythology of presidential honesty, the tree is inverted. Its trunk transforms into wireframe lattice and slumps, perhaps melted. While the transitions from the natural to the human-made can be subtle, the change is obvious, the voice of the
We are embedded in our environment and are a real part of nature. Yet, ironically, it seems to be a human tendency to create idealized visions of the natural world—visions that are romantic and unrealistic and, hence, projections of our species’ desire for perfection and flawlessness. Our visions often overlook, or at least try to ignore, what we consider imperfections.
Perfect translation is an illusion. The value of imperfection is lost when we blindly adhere to ideals of purity, especially at the expense of honesty.
The exhibition, Jim Jacobs: The Imperfections That Render Us Visible, will be at the Kimball Art Center in Park City Utah, September 20, 2019 through November 3, 2019. The opening reception is from 6-8PM on September 20th.