A Tank Translated, 2002
4 channel on 4 DVDs
Duration: from 3mn to 7 mn
Presentation with 4 monitors on piedestal
A Tank Translated compiles footage of conversations with four members of an Israeli Army tank. Each crew member was interviewed separately in his home – a year after being released from the army. Although conducted informally – each conversation began with a series of identical questions asking the crew member to definite what a tank is, what his assignment in the tank was, whether he was good at his assignment and why. This question would be repeated several times throughout each conversation, in addition to a number of similar queries regarding what is an army, a war, an enemy, victory, defeat and so on.
The conversations were conducted in hebrew, then edited and translated faithfully with running English subtitles. However – as the subtitles line the bottom of the screen in the video – whenever any word appears which signals a military context – it is quickly altered – onscreen – into a civilian substitute.The substitutions happen quickly – leaving the direct translation of the conversation onscreen for less than a second – before the selected words are replaced and a new meaning built. Although the sentence structure and spirit of each original dialogue is preserved – the context is systematically and visibly normalized as the new narratives takes over. And so, as each crew member speaks –his observations regarding his assignment in the tank and his role in the present reality are rebuilt into an imaginary.Through this very inaccurate translation –the words of the interview subjects– four young men who until recently functioned as instruments of the state –are coaxed back into civilian life.
A Tank Translated is about the language and space shifts, but also deals with the act of looking and framing.