BreMM17 | Vitral & Queiroz

Leticía Vitral & João Queiroz
Linnaeus University | Sweden & Federal University of Juiz de Fora | Brazil

Translation among Media as an Epistemic Practice

Processes of translation involving different media have been notoriously approached for decades in a wide scope of research areas under different names: intersemiotic translation, medial transposition, transmediation, among others. But despite this wide range of terms, and the overlapping of many of these concepts, neither of them provided the field of intermediality and multimodality a deep and systematic account on the epistemic potential of such processes. The question remains open: how can processes of transference among media provide us with new and even unexpected information? This is a question that addresses both practical and theoretical problems in several fields of knowledge, covering issues that range from artistic creativity to scientific innovation.

We are going to approachthis question through an artefactual-oriented approach of processes of translation among different media: the translation from the source-media to the target-media must recreate selected properties from the former in different materials and in a radically new context of interpretation. This artefactual approach of translation processes conceives media as epistemic artifacts: material entities that are used to communicate or represent something, whose constraints are developed into affordances for epistemic purposes (Knuuttila 2005). The material features of media provide agents the necessary material and temporal consistency that allows the manipulationof both source-and target-media, making them tangible, and aiding cognitive activities that afford reasoning and allows discovery.

In order to properly investigate the epistemic potential of processes of translation, we are going to present and analyze a specific case of translation from architecture to photography: between the years of 1959 and 1978, the photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher photographed the industrial landscape of (mainly) the Siegerland and Ruhr region, in Germany. Because of their “objective” (sachlich) treatmentof the architectural subjects, they won the Golden Lion of Sculpture in the Venice Biennale in 1990, for their photographic work. One of their most successful works are the book and the exhibition named Fachwerkhäuser, which is going to be approached here.


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Elleström, L. 2014. Media Transformation: The Transfer of Media Characteristics among Media. New York: Palgrave MacMillan
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Kirsh, D. 2010. Thinking with external representations. Ai & Society, 25(4), 441 -454
Knuuttila, T. 2005. Models, representation, and mediation. Philosophy of Science 72.5, 1260-1271.

Biographical Note

Letícia Vitral is a Ph.D. student at the department of Film and Literature in the Linnaeus University (Sweden). She is member of the Iconicity Research Group (Federal University of Juiz de Fora) and the Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies (Linnaeus University). Her research concerns the relation between transmediations and processes of modelling. Her research interests include:Photography, Semiotics, Epistemology and Intermediality.

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