This article by Andrés Burbano (b. 1973) is pertinent to issues of language and code. The author defines automatic translation as a series of systems and operators that attempt to generate a “universal translation” between languages, recognizing both the flaws in the machine and the specificity of each language. Automatic translation is seen to have globalizing potential. Burbano formulates the need for a “global language,” that is, a means of communicating and disseminating information around the world.
As a collective construction, the language Burbano formulates is political; it stands in opposition to notions like intellectual property and nationality. Bearing in mind the position of Latin America in a world scheme based on the division between “center and periphery,” the text proposes the construction of accessible knowledge that does not deny the role of the machine as mediator between languages.
The text “Traducción [ex machina]” was released in 2005 in the framework of a series of publications entitled “Cuadernos Grises” by the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota. The series compiles articles on issues pertinent to contemporary artistic practices in Colombia.
Andrés Burbano studied film and television at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and went on to receive a master’s degree in communication and interactive media in Barcelona, Spain. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Media Arts and Technology program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also a visual artist, critic, and cultural consultant.