The Translator’s Conundrum – Daryl Vocat

The Translator’s Conundrum is a series of screen prints that explores the creation and maintenance of ideology. It looks at the intersections between natural, cultural and social influences, and how an understanding of these concepts influences who we are, what we identify with, and how we act.

The Conundrum looks at how information is received, interpreted and transformed during communication. Rather than viewing artistic practice as a form of unique individual expression, The Conundrum asserts that art is a form of communication, and that a key element of creative practices is the act of translation. The translator consciously collects, interprets and recombines information in a process of evolution. In order to demonstrate how ideas are understood, and to partake in a continuum of knowledge, a story is told, edited, and told again in a different way. Through reconfiguration and retelling, different stories and ideas are revealed, and a more complex, irreducible body of knowledge is developed.

This body of work takes information and ideas from disparate sources, and brings them together as a fragmented, yet unified, whole. As a result, The Translator’s Conundrum acts as a form of ideological collage. Rather than striving for the creation of something completely unique, this work strives to look at old information in new ways. As such, reconfiguration is both the process, and subject matter, of The Translator’s Conundrum. On the one hand, it looks at information to affirm and support, and on the other, to question and challenge.

Notions of identity and difference are explored by using images of animals. In this context, animals provide a connection to the natural world, or to an understanding of the natural world. Images of animals, through their difference from humans, help to articulate and define concepts of both ‘sameness’ and ‘otherness.’ By including natural elements in a culturally-determined setting, The Conundrum questions the division of nature and culture into separate entities. Instead of asking whether behaviour and identity are based on biological or cultural determinants, assuming the two are opposites, this work suggests that nature and culture are part of a complex, interwoven continuum.

The act of translation is both an impossibility, and a necessity. An impossibility because language inevitably fails, or betrays authorial intentions through misunderstanding and reduction. And a necessity because communication, and the evolution of ideas depend on translation in order to proliferate and evolve. Within the leap from self to other, from assertion to interpretation, behind the desire to communicate, lies the translator’s conundrum.

This body of work was created in 2006/2007.

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Daryl Vocat, born in Regina, Saskatchewan, is a visual artist living and working in Toronto. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, and his Master of Fine Arts degree at York University in Toronto. His main focus is printmaking, specifically screen printing. He works out of Toronto’s Open Studio. His work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC, The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery permanent collection in British Columbia, The Saskatchewan Arts Board permanent collection, and the City of Toronto Fine Art collection.