Beginning with ‘The Image’ in How It Is when translating certain processes of digital language art
Digital literature – literary or language-art work in digital, programmable media – is often intimately and explicitly engaged with conceptualism and procedure, whether generative or transfigurative. Even when these modalities of practice are far from being a subject or focus, they may be aestheticized and proposed as vital for any appreciation of the work in terms of its significance and affect. The critic or translator cannot fully understand or translate a programmed work unless they understand and translate its programming. In certain cases, concept and procedure may constitute the most important aspects of a work of linguistic art. This essay begins with ‘The Image’ in How It Is, a collaborative project by the author and Daniel C. Howe, and proceeds to identify a number of problems for translation – in general, but especially in the case of any work that is process-intensive or conceptual – that are brought out by the proposal that ‘The Image’ in How It Is should be ‘translated’ into French.