Intersemiotic Interpretation – The role of medium in intersemiotic translation of a poem

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in New Media
80 + 8
Intersemiotic translation is the process of translating a verbal source material into another, nonverbal medium. This approach extends the traditional definition of translation, providing another perspective beyond language. Intersemiotic research has frequently investigated the semiotic process of translating literature such as poetry to other media e.g. painting. However, I could not find any research of intersemiotic translation which explores the effect of the same poem translated to different semiotic channels. As the result of iterative experimentation, I created two translations of the German poem “Kleine Aster” by Gottfried Benn, one as an art installation using thermal printers to dissect the poem’s grammatical content, and the other as an infographic following the principles of Isotype. The artworks were evaluated by a questionnaire and thematic analysis revealed that the art installation conveyed the intention of the poem better while the information graphic communicated the content. Additionally, a comparison of the two produced translations as well as a musical work based on the same poem suggests that the choice of the medium is affected by the translator’s interpretation and skillset. Because of this, the translation process is dependent on these variables as they decide how and what should be conveyed in the target medium. This makes intersemiotic translation of a poem a subjective work, as the translator decides what are the important components of the poem that should be represented.
Niinimäki, Matti
Thesis advisor
Kukkurainen, Kirsi
intersemiotic translation, intersemiotic process, semiotic channels, Gottfried Benn, poetry, art installation, isotype, new media
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Media files notes: Video Documentation of "To my beloved Aster" translation and Isotype translation as PDF-File Media rights: CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0