Douglas Coupland “Lost and Gained in Translation”


Douglas Coupland
Fight Club, 2005 and Less Than Zero, 2005

Fight Club and Less Than Zero are part of series shown together as Lost and Gained in Translation, a body of work that is concerned with the intersection of language, books and visual culture in mass media. Part of Coupland’s process was to use a web site search engine to translate texts out of and back into English. The results were photocopied onto every available colour of paper at a Kinko’s copy outlet and then arranged in large, text-based mosaics. Fight Club and Less Than Zero gestures toward both the mechanics and the outcomes of telling stories through a strong interest in design and typography.

In Lost and Gained in Translation, Coupland investigates the new meaning of translation in a world of file sharing, search engine translations, and endless digital replication of text-based work. As the artist states, “Any paragraph pumped through massive translation ends up with a huge amount of chaff (strands of numbers, etc.). However, once removed, the remains are often a chilling reductive haiku of the initial text”. This is the impetus for his large translation pieces, based on a book project with Hans Obrist, called Do It. These pieces come across as intelligible word puzzles, a somewhat recognizable form of the original but different in an essentially mysterious way through the process of translation and re-translation.


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