Trace 

The Floating Goose Studios October 2016.


35°03’28.1’’S 139°09’55.1’'E   2016
Three channel video installation duration 05:02

There is a translator’s preface at the beginning of a book by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1), in which the translators throw their arms up in the air and write that ‘it’s impossible for us to do this.’  They suggest that the subtle complexity of Derrida’s ideas get lost through the process of translation, resulting in a new text that is subtly different from the original.  They then state that that is precisely what Derrida’s writing is all about—a questioning of the possibility of authentic translation from one medium (or language) into another.  Rather than dismiss the task of translation as that which diminishes something of the original, Derrida argues that translation brings some traces of meaning across the threshold of language, and leaves others traces behind. Something more is added along the way.  This simple idea is present within written discussions about artworks, and within some artworks themselves.  The key concern often surrounds trying to identify what remains of the original, and what is added by the viewer.

This idea of the problem of translation is, I think, present at the heart of these works by Kristen Coleman.  The motif of a threshold through and over which the traces of fractured memory are brought by the artist, is present in the notion of;  the screen, the separation of the projection into multiple screens, the horizon, and the confused indefinable separation point between personal and public memory within cinematic narratives.  While the motif of the threshold might be easier to identify, the more elusive elements—the traces of personal memory present within (or rather, parallel to) what may originally have been a fractured moment taken from a cinematic narrative—are much harder to find.  These are the traces that fall away sometimes through the process of translation, (a movement across the horizon or the screen), and are added to at other times by the viewer.  These works explore how traces of fractured personal memories seem present as an indescribable affective quality within the public narrative of mainstream cinema.  The process of translation continues.  Stand in front of the works long enough, another layer is added, another layer taken away.  It doesn’t stop.

Essay by Andrew Dearman October 2016


(1) This is me paraphrasing, Geoff Bennington & Ian McLeod (trans), Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting, The University of

Chicago Press, Chicago & London, p. xiv, 1987.

Trace was proudly supported by the Adelaide Central School of Art Graduate Support Program 

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