East Asian Cityscapes in Translation

Marija Todorova, Zoran Poposki

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


Recently, a number of scholars in translation studies, including Michael Cronin, Esperança Bielsa, Jianhzong Xu, Gengshen Hu, and Ludmila Kushnina, have elaborated on the nexus between cosmopolitanism, ecology and translation.

This paper looks at intersemiotic translation through a case study of two contemporary art projects: 1) “Hong Kong Atlas”, translating the palimpsest character of Hong Kong’s urban topography, and 2) “Natsu” translating cosmopolitan Tokyo. Both cities are seen as places of translation between the West and the East. In Poposki’s art project, the locations in the city are performatively mapped out by means of a psychogeography documented in digital photographs, which are then through a series of translations transcoded into visual form as a multimedia arts project.

Presented at the 2019 Cairo Biennale, under the theme Eyes East Bound, Dr. Poposki’s artistic research Natsu explores intercultural translation of the natural and built environment as mediated through a visitor’s somatic experience of the urban landscape of a foreign country. Consisting of 3 postdigital prints featuring abstract cityscapes in Tokyo, the works are executed in Dr Poposki’s signature style that fuses a psychogeographic performative experience of landscape/cityscape with an abstract expressionist approach to form and colourful post-pop imagery. The project applies a method of intersemiotic translation developed originally in Dr Poposki’s internationally exhibited and critically acclaimed series Hong Kong Atlas (2013-2017), presented at the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, Hong Kong Art Basel, etc.

Both projects are works about positionality, a sense of place, about cultural translation and transcoding, and about mediating between different cultural flows. Relying on practices of mapping and performative encounters with the cityscape that account for translation zones and flows, the project’s own remapping of Hong Kong with its successive overlays of meaning, attempts to merge both the real body of the city as well as its numerous locations of memory and virtuality. More broadly, both artistic projects explore the emerging network of new pathways of translation between multiple formats of expression and communication that is the underlying operating mechanism of altermodernity (Nicolas Bourriaud), emerging as a centerless chronotope of global negotiation and interchange between agents from different cultures


ConferenceTranslation Studies in East Asia: Tradition, Transition, Transcendence, 2021EAST
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User-Defined Keywords

  • eco translation
  • translated image
  • intersemiotic translation
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan


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