translation | ana čavić | sally morfill

rules that order the reading of clouds, 2016

according to laurent jenny, the intention of the artist/writer henri michaux’s early graphic work was ‘to reconcile writing and drawing, which after all are both attributes of the same line’1. in the digital animation, rules that order the reading of clouds (2016), the medium for sally morfill and ana čavić’s exchange is the nomadic line – a fluid signifier – as it shifts back and forth between the contexts of drawing and writing. 

where jacques derrida identifies that the source of a translation ‘lives and lives on in mutation’2, always at a distance from the origin, the series of sequential translations that operate in rules that order the reading of clouds reconfigure the same ‘kit’ of lines; each time pushing the visual or literary meaning further from its originary starting point. as the same lines are composed into drawing or poetry, new meanings and readings emerge. the kit of lines are the constitutive parts of a single digitised line drawing of a dynamic skyscape, which is the starting point for the animation. a series of rule-based exchanges occurs, in which čavić and morfill take turns moving a specific number of lines, each time creating a new translation of what came before. the skyscape is gradually deconstructed and recomposed as a poem, then in turn, the poem is deconstructed and reconfigured as a drawing. through the animation process a generative call and response is set in motion as image translates into poetry, and poetry translates into image – emulating the unpredictable and mutating movements and readings of clouds.

1 Jenny, L. (2000) ‘Simple Gestures.’ In de Zegher, C. (ed.) Untitled Passages By Henri Michaux. London, New York: Merrell Publishers Ltd, The Drawing Center, pp. 187-198.

Derrida, J. (1985) ‘Des Tours de Babel,’ trans. J.F.Graham, in J.F. Graham (ed.) Difference in Translation, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 165-207

about the artists

ana čavić is a ljubljana and london based performance artist, poet and postgraduate researcher into performance-born alternative artist’s publishing. since graduating from the slade school of fine art in 2008, she has performed internationally, both solo and as part of the performance art and publishing duo ladies of the press* (ana čavić and rené o’drobniak). ladies of the press* re-imagines the role of the publisher and the publicist into a theatrical persona through live pop-up publishing projects, including participatory girl gonzo zine making performances.

since 2014, she has been collaborating with sally morfill on a body of work exploring themes of translation and dialogue through drawing and writing exchanges producing text and image works on paper, digital animation and, together with tychonas michailidis, sonic-vibro-haptic poem objects. her art practice, at the intersection of the fields of performing and literary arts, includes works on paper, artist publications, digital poetry animation and digitally assisted poetry and storytelling performances.

presently, she is undertaking phd research at winchester school of art, university of southampton. her reserach project, towards a theatre of publishing, explores the performative turn in 20th century artist’s self-publishing practices, re-examing aritsts’ publications from the perspective performance art and theory. 

sally morfill is an artist who lives and works in both london and manchester, uk. since 2007 she has been a member of five years, a collaborative artists’ project based in archway, london, sharing responsibility for the programming of events and exhibitions.

she has recently completed a practice-based phd, making work that investigates the relationship between drawing and different aspects of language, as found in and between speech, movement and writing. Her thesis describes a drawing practice in which translation functions as a primary methodology. 

morfill’s practice is cross-disciplinary, often collaborative, and is informed by her own textiles education. she first explored collaborative possibilities in the early 1990s, and has developed a series of collaborative pairings, mostly recently with chicago-based artist susan giles. since 2014, she has been collaborating with ana čavić on a body of work exploring themes of translation and dialogue through drawing and writing exchanges, most recently producing digital animation. morfill has shown both in the UK and internationally.