contemporary art, critical theory, translation

Nick Davies, d PlsUR of d Txt (2011)

October 14, 2011

As a structuralist who wrote about wrestling, wine and fashion, it can seem Roland Barthes is one of the less abstruse theorists you might come across in an artwork.

And now Nick Davies has added a layer of either difficulty or simplicity by translating the Frenchman’s 1975 work, The Pleasure of the Text, into mobile phone textese.

His newly created book, d PlsUR of d Txt, is at once too highbrow and too lowbrow for most people to enjoy in a casual manner. In either case, this Barthes is not easy.

But he is at least down with the kids. The thought of a generation of Blackberry wielding looters giving up trainers for semiotics and textual bliss is a hopeful one.

Whether or not that could ever be, the mere possibility must stand as a threat to the status quo. The authorities cannot like secret languages of any description.

Far from being a shortcut to communication, the translation of this work into textese was a long and laborious process. Even with the help of transl8it.com

In doing so, Davies has in a literal way expanded the vocalbulary of this commonly used website and also expanded the scope of what you might talk about in 160 characters.

Reinventing Barthes for the street and reinventing the street as the academy, his essay or experiment promises much. Just don’t mention it on Twitter.

For some reason the social networking site cannot compute the title of Davies’ work. In an ironic twist on the work the artist and later myself had no joy tweeting PlsUR.

The translation has been produced in an edition of 160 by the artist. For more information see his website.

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