Between Page and Screen by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse. Translating an AR poetry book

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Piotr Marecki

    Jagiellonian University

  2. 2. Aleksandra Małecka

    Jagiellonian University

Work text
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Our poster is devoted to the English-Polish translation of the augmented reality book Between Page and Screen by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse. The prominent digital media scholar K. N. Hayles wrote about the relationship between the analogue and the digital: “In the contemporary era, both print and electronic texts are deeply interpenetrated by code. Digital technologies are now so thoroughly integrated with commercial printing processes that print is more properly considered a particular output form of electronic text than an entirely separate medium.” Between Page and Screen is an illustration of these processes on one of the possible reading levels. The authors tell the tale of the relationship between the analogue book and digital screen in the form of an epistolary concrete poetry dialogue between two protagonists, P. and S. The nature of the relationship is underlined by the fact that the work comprises of a traditional book with QR codes (sold in bookstores) and an online application for reading it. The two platforms are inextricably joined in the reading process (which cannot take place if one of the links is missing). The translation of the book and application involves innovations and challenges unheard of in the case of conventional books. Our poster is a visual guide through the process of translation and publication of the AR book in Poland.

Creating the data base

Borsuk and Bouse's work can be seen as a piece of constrained writing. The authors tell their story with a selected vocabulary. The letters by P. and S. highly employ words that stem from the Indoeuropean roots of the words “page” and “screen”. The authors used lists of related words found in the respective entries in the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. In the Polish translation, the translators recreated the same principle for the Polish words “kartka” and “ekran”, but given that there is no one comprehensive dictionary of Indo-European roots for the Polish language, they created similar lists based on the study of several etymological dictionaries of Slavic languages. The etymological and lexicological research was the first, crucial step of the translation process.

Comparing the data bases

Given different linguistic contexts and different lists of related words, it becomes clear that the dialogues and characters of the analogue and digital protagonist (in Polish K. and E.) will differ between the source and target language. It was thus necessary to reinvent the characters based on the new vocabulary ranges.

Conceptual translation

Given that word-for-word translation was impossible with the above-mentioned constraint, the translators decided to recreate the logic of the book, loosely following the plot of the English original. The final translation is rather a translation of the concept than a direct translation of the text.

Visual adaptation

The work by Borsuk and Bouse can be also seen as concrete poetry. The QR codes in the book have a visual aspect to them themselves. In interaction with the online application, they launch animations, which in their shape and movement reflect the verbs or nouns used in them. Given that the word resources of the Polish and English works are different, the shapes of the animations were also changed.

Use of software

The application was written with the FLARToolkit, thus, any changes, from content to features like diacritics, were introduced with the use of this tool.

Publication and distribution

The last element of this procedure is traditional computer typesetting of the book and introducing it into distribution as well as launching a website dedicated to it.

The translation of electronic literature remains an understudied area. One of the reasons for this is the acceptance of the status quo that most available, created and read works are in English. This is connected with several difficulties in translation and adaptation of electronic literature (working with code, working with a given platform). There are often several issues connected with the idiomatic character of the work (both on the level of content and platform). Our poster

also does not offer a ready formula for the translation

of such works - it is a case study of one work, considered emblematic of the phenomenon of AR books. The methodologies of medium specific analysis (K. N. Hayles), as well as exploratory programming (N. Montfort), the terms bookishness (J. Pressman) and liberature (Z. Fajfer and K. Bazarnik) provide the vocabulary that will allow us to describe and visualize the performed process.


Bolter J. D., (2014), Augmented Reality. In: The John Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, M.-L. Tyan, L. Emerson, B. J. Robertson (eds.), John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2017

Hosted at McGill University, Université de Montréal

Montréal, Canada

Aug. 8, 2017 - Aug. 11, 2017

438 works by 962 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (12)

Organizers: ADHO