On Translation: El Aplauso

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This triptych video installation was produced in collaboration with the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango, Bogota, Colombia and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. Following the File Room, 1994, Muntadas embarked on an extended series of installations entitled On Translation with El Aplauso having been included in every major retrospective since it’s initial realization in Columbia.

On Translation: El aplauso is a video installation in the form of a triptych made up of three adjacent screens. The images and sound of audience applause before an unspecified event are projected onto the two side screens, while the center screen shows a front view of the audience applauding. Every fifteen to twenty seconds the image projected on the central screen changes, and a sort of subliminal flickering gives way to a black-and-white soundless snapshot of conspicuous violence. These images, that addressed the issue of violence in all its categories, were taken from the local Colombian context and sever other places around the world characterized by extreme violence, corruption, inequality, and international indifference.

As in other earlier projects, which took a look at the processes of transformation and translation of violence into a media spectacle, “el aplauso,” understood as a social convention that denotes consensus and complacency, was approached in this work as a metaphor for the immaterial identity of the audience, their alienation and complicity, represented here by the repetitive, monotonous gesture of clapping. In On Translation: El Aplauso, Muntadas drew a portrait of the obscene morbidity with which the media translate and accept atrocities committed all over the world.