Tag Archives: translating

Method of Translating – Written Response

We Should Really Be Concerned About
“Critical “for everyone?

To discuss this question, we have to start with the essential meaning of the word critical. First, let me present the three elements that Ramia Mazé proposes. These three elements overlap and influence each other in critical design practice.

●Critical Attitude
Designers must repeatedly ask themselves questions about their perspectives and social issues during the production process and have a critical attitude to incorporate new interpretations and social positions into the design practice.

●Concerning Debate
Critical practice requires the challenge of updating traditional values and formats. It requires thoughtful discussion based on critical approaches and discipline within the community.

●Pressing issues on Society
We must maintain sight of the purpose of critical design, which is to address social issues. We don’t practise critical design to talk among designers; we do it to raise questions about social and political issues.

What can be read from these is that the role of designers is transitioning from Author to Researcher. The reason for this is not only that the function of design has matured as a discipline and that its legitimacy has been sought as a research tool but also that the importance of multiple research methods, such as social science and cultural anthropology, has increased.

From this point of view, the social issues that need to be addressed are by no means the domain of designers alone, and that design does not necessarily have to be the method of presenting solutions.


However, the word “critical” tends to be consumed like a label in the current design industry. One reason for this is the ambiguity of the word critical. Therefore, we will need to examine the very word, critical critically.

It all started when the curation team vaguely defined the term for the 2007 exhibition “Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design.”.

Since then, the word “critical” has been consumed like a label in the Internet media, and we have seen many ironic design expressions that seem to skim only the surface meaning.

Designers can now easily buy good reviews and followers on Social Networks. In such a situation, there may be a certain number of designers who have an allergic reaction to criticism itself. However, we must remember that these criticisms are made not for the designer’s identity but as part of their social contribution.


Reference :

Method of Translating


I chose First Love by Hikaru Utada, Japan’s best-selling song, in 1999. Hikaru Utada is one of the most famous musicians and the first person who wrote R&B songs in Japan. She was born and grew up in NY, so she did not know much about J-pop. However, she consequently became a queen of J-pop. One reason for this achievement is that her parents are both musicians, and she was familiar with songwriting and singing from when she was a little child. When she made the song, she was still 15 years old.

Translatin experiments
I have tried three types of translation, linguistic, video, and sound construction.

Going through translating, I have noticed that some Japanese sentences, which are highlighted, do not have subjects. Hence, it is possible to imagine many kinds of love relationships, not only romantic but also general love.

To learn synesthesia, I analysed the original music video. It helped me pick up colours for my graphic design and know the tendency of metaphors which show a loss, confusion, disappearance, praying, loneliness etc…

I searched the instrument’s constitution, learned how to make a graphic score on YouTube, and tried to make it myself.

These references were helpful for making the final visualizasion.

#Final Visualization

The circle line follows time, inner lines follow the song’s progression. I reconfigured the lyrics depending on the process of time. Regarding white lines under the lyrics, which I made in week one, are vocal melody lines.


What’s working:

  • It was a challenging attempt for me to create a graphic score based on one complete piece of music. In this project, I succeeded in capturing all of my own emotions, reinterpretation of lyrics, and synesthesia elements obtained from analysis of music videos in one visual.
  • The time axis represented by the circle and the progress of the song represented by the inner line worked well.

What’s not working:

  • By carefully researching the relationship between each graphic score and the song in John Cage’s Reference, it is possible that my work has developed into a more abstract and cohesive output.
  • There is a possibility that the relationship between the organisation of instruments placed in each section and the vocal melody can be enhanced.

To develop this further:

  • By deepening my knowledge of synesthesia, I would like to deepen my insight into the relationship between music and visuals.
  • It was interesting to hear the opinion that there might be a possibility for multifaceted interpretation. Of course, presenting the research process can be convincing to the viewer, but it should also be a concern that how much information someone seeing only the graphic score can get a new perspective from this visual. One possibility is adding ingenuity for making layers to the interpretation, such as arranging symbols like Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, that can help understand the meaning of the work.