Open “Pushkin Translation” by Aleksandr Pushkin and Megan Sapnar
This is a work of translation from Russian into English and transmediation from paper-based to screen-based written expression. This four line poem poses an age old question: how does someone receive a written message from a would-be lover. The letter, as a direct address to a person, is quite possibly as direct an expression of the speaker’s emotions, and is therefore not as well received as the poem. Poetry encodes sentiment, delivering the same sentiments in formal and inventive ways, perhaps the reason for its long association with love.
To translate such a culturally and materially codified material to digital media is to change it fundamentally, yet Sapnar manages to evoke those contexts in several ways. From the outset, she presents readers with an introductory page that contains linguistic and graphical objects the readers can move around with the pointer, evoking the conceptual frame of the original poem through a very digital interface. The opening cinematic sequence and the textual animation over an image of the most famous buildings in Moscow provide a sense of place, without romanticizing it. Most importantly, the interface uses a rectangle that the readers can move over the Russian text to allow them to hear the poem read out loud while they can see the English translation in the rectangle, suggesting that we can only experience the past through present cultural and technological contexts.
Featured in Poems That GO.