Over the last few weeks I have wanted to go back to using my sign language interpreting roots. Using the semaphore to obstruct and intentionally hide messages has led me to start looking again at the power of translators and interpreters as people. A translator (in English)is usually someone who translates text from one language into another, but the terms used to describe what translators and interpreters do are actually very varied across languages and cultures. An interpreter is someone who interprets between two languages (spoken or signed) either simultaneously (at the same time as the source language is spoken) or consecutively, where the speech is broken into chunks and then these chunks are interpreted.
I have been recording a few speeches by the new president of America, and placing myself ‘in screen’ as an interpreter for the speeches. I decided that I wanted to emphasise the bias that a translator can have and the effect this could have on a social event. What would happen visually if instead of interpreting what was said, I interpret something else? Or I interpret with clear bias in my tone/choice of language? After a few attempts at this I found I wanted to simply stand still, so I did. I also created a few versions where instead of interpreting I chose instead to perform a few routine domestic tasks, which were also displayed in screen as though I am ready to begin interpreting.
Does this work consider power? Or is that power lost because it is not really on television? Am I restricted because I am aware that I couldn’t really do this live, as I would be unlikely to get work as interpreter afterwards?