Naang Tani





On French TV talk shows, the live translation/dubbing of a “foreign” (mostly Anglo-Saxon) celebrity guest interview borderline pertains to an augmented reality experience.

There is a superimposition of 2 different languages:  the observant and observed; one having latency over the other.

The live ‘translated’ version, however, doesn’t sound French.

It is instead a bastardized theater, in which the main character develops an alter ego imposed by its nemesis.

While conveying meaning from a syntax to another, there is control, character development, and consumption at play. The audience eventually absorbs these lightweight personae, generally counteracting the francophone obsession with oral intellect.

Translation strategies are gray areas because they involve simulation, taming, and exoticization, all of which relate and differ vastly from one another. They are polysystemic.    

There are some inquiries we can consider: 

Is translation an exchange, or a branch of appropriation?

Does “something” gain “anything” when it is translated?

Is translation obtained upon merit?

If communication isn’t real to start with, where/when does translation stand within such dynamics? 

Does inaccurate translation render a piece more credible?

Is translation a performance?


This is an excerpt from Nostalgia for the Light (2010), a documentary focusing on the relationship between humans, earth, and the cosmos, through the eyes of Chilean astronomers as well as families affected by Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. In this short transcript, a Chilean scientist describes the limits of our understanding of reality and spatiotemporal phenomena.


A: “All of our life experiences, including this conversation, happened in the past. Even if it’s a matter of millionths of a second. The camera I am looking at now is a few meters away and therefore already several millionths of a second in the past in relation to the time on my watch. The signal takes time to arrive. The light reflected from the camera of you reaches me after a moment. A fleeting moment as the speed of light is very fast.”

B:“How long does it take for the moonlight to reach over us?”

A:“Just over a second.”

B:“And Sunlight?”

A:“8 minutes.”

B:“So we don’t see things at the very instant we look at them?”

A:“No, that’s the trap

The present doesn’t exist

It’s true.

The only present that might exist

is the one in my mind.

it’s the closest we come to the absolute presence. And not even then! When I think, it takes a moment for the signal to travel between my senses.

Between when I say

this is me

and when I touch myself,

there is a lapse in time.”


Time is instrumental in observing mutations. Space (i.e. Scale) is instrumental in making mutations invisible. Human metrics have somewhat totalized ideas about mutation as an absolute practice of self-awareness, monitoring the self as relational to those transient structures. Mutations are important because they stand at the crossroads of total exposure and human-eyed invisibility. It alters, then it patterns. It can equate our systems in the sense that our existence is random. There is no such thing as stillness – a living organism is mutation embodied.


Until now,

mass catastrophes were dispersed enough to hold human networks unaccountable. The mutations eventually lead towards the mass media’s recent, prophetic declaration of the sixth mass extinction.

Does everything reboot?

Does extinction even have an end?

It’s an eerie feeling to imagine “our” disappearance, which is microbial considering the scale of the cosmos. When self-destruction is inherent and immanent in our species, there is arrogance in imagining a world without human impact, when our opinions will no longer exist, translate or mutate. It is most likely curiosity about the next dominant, infective agent.




Sound, digital collage, and text by Naang Tani