Creative, technical and cultural marketing communications blog - by Karen Andrews, marketing translator, transcreator, content marketing strategist, writer and editor.
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Saturday, 2 April 2016
frustrating. A sudden unexplained spike in the analytics for an old blog revealed
a copy pirate. Research lead to further discoveries in the murky waters of SEO
and Google Analytics.
efforts were being redirected to another site. Grr!
The site even
claimed to be “honest”. Double grr!
It was by no means
certain that Google would give my site precedence. Triple grr!
In a black mood, I
was glad to get out for the evening. I headed for some Italian culture at the
Royal Academy of Arts. Little did I realise that that the tricky theme of
attribution was to continue…
The Royal Academy
of Arts is currently showing the works of early 16th century
Venetian artists. The exhibition is entitled “In the Age of Giorgione”. Our expert guide explained that all the
paintings in the collection had been attributed to Giorgione at some time.
Art detective work
lead to reflections on attributing and crediting translators and copywriters
for their online work. Let me explain…
explained that pretty much everything we know about Giorgione could be written
on the back of a postage stamp. We know that he was born in Castelfranco
Veneto. We don’t know the exact date, although we believe somewhere around
1478. We know that he lived and worked in Venice. He died in his early
thirties, probably of the plague.
brings together paintings from a 10-year period in Venetian art. There was a
whole new generation of artists. If we cannot be sure exactly which paintings
are Giorgione’s, we do know that he had a new approach that influenced the
introduced a new focus on the sitter’s hands. He painted symbolic objects to
reflect the sitter’s personality. There was an attempt to depict the sitter’s
state of mind and introduce a narrative element. His paintings do not show
underdrawings. Instead he painted directly onto the canvas while watching the
sitter. As a result, his portraits give us the feeling of capturing a real
individual. They do not stare absently into the distance. Our eyes meet.
Our guide drew our
attention to the addition of landscapes into drawings. He stressed how some
figures depicted are set within the
landscape, rather than it merely being a backdrop. In the past, the presence of
a landscape meant that paintings were attributed to Giorgione. In the 1900s a
hundred paintings were attributed to him, now just 40.
difficult. A list of 15 works was drawn up 15 years after his death. Only 3
descriptions are recognisable. We know some paintings were lost or are in too
poor a condition to act as good verification. We know he shared a studio. We
are told that he fell out with Titian. Unfortunately, the source is considered
suspect and only offers a one-sided viewpoint.
Two of the gallery
paintings demonstrated the difficulties of attribution very well. The altarpiece
of the Virgin and Child with Saint Peter
and Saint Mark and a Donor showed three different styles. The most engaging
characters are Saint Peter and Saint Mark looking at each other. The donor in
the foreground looks wooden by contrast and the way his hands touch the baby’s
foot looks awkward. The Madonna and child lack the finesse of the two saints. Even
worse is the shadow of a figure that is not even in the painting. This is a panel
attributed to Bellini. It is part of a missing triptych and evidently the work
of more than one artist of varying talent.
Ah, but it gets
worse… Il Tramonto turns out to be a
hotchpotch of paintings. A nightmare restoration.
Judge for yourself
At the end of his
talk, our guide invited us to look again at all the paintings and ignore the attributions in the labels alongside. Compare the paintings. Is it
possible for one artist to change his style so much in just 5 years?
I found the guided
tour intriguing. As I came away, I couldn’t help thinking about all the
discussions in the translation world over who owns a translation memory. When a
translation is divided up for the sake of speed, it often ends up like Bellini’s
Virgin and the Child. Good in parts,
but even the good parts are spoilt by the failure to maintain a consistent
style. Some translations can end up like
Il Tramonto – a case of too many cooks spoilt the broth.
generally a singular rather than a collective activity. A consensus approach can
kill creativity. However, the creativity of one artist, translator or writer
can inspire the creativity of another. While Giorgione died young, Titian was
influenced by him and went on to develop some of his ideas.
Returning to the
modern digital world, I love how one blog can influence a whole series of
others. I hope that genuine authors will get the credit for their ideas and
work, rather than the “pirates”.
At the AsLing 2015
Conference, Jaap van der Meer of TAUS mentioned that Oracle are working on a
system that could identify the effectiveness of individual phrases. Now, it
strikes me that this might identify exactly who is responsible for the copy
with the most effective sales conversions. Such attributions could lead to
fairer remuneration or a “bonus” for the best in the profession. The best work
will be known, attributable and visible.
Karen Andrews runs Anglicity Ltd. She is an entrepreneurial French to English translator, transcreator, copywriter, and digital marketer. For further information see Anglicity's website