Determining the key facets of the work

Of the facets previously enumerated, the external factors, like the references in a work and the information about the context surrounding a work can most often be presented as text and handled with standard didactic approaches and relevant appropriate accessibility techniques. The other facets, which are more directly focussed on the artist, the work and the audience will be explored in greater detail.

When approaching the translation of an artwork into another sensory mode you must first answer the following: Should you be focussed on re-presenting the idea behind the work, the process involved in creating the work, the work itself or the experience that the work creates for the audience. In some cases, such as scored musical compositions or scripted plays and performances, there is the additional question: Should you translate the score / script or an interpretation of the it.

First let's look into art that prioritizes process.


Process Art was a specific movement in the mid-1960s in which artists allowed the process of making art to follow its own inherent tendencies, rather than following a predetermined plan. Robert Morris made work by making long cuts into lengths of felt, and then hanging them on a nail and allowing them to find a their own form based on the properties of the felt under the influence of gravity. The process of making the work was usually clearly visible in the finished work.

But the importance of the process in a work is not limited to a particular school or movement. For some artists, focussing on the process is a philosophical position. For others it is simply that they find the results are better when they focus on process rather than product. In other cases, there is no product, or the product is completely incidental, and the work is essentially a kind of ritual or performance carried out by the artist.

If process is a key facet in the work in the sense that the process remains visible in the result, then we must be careful to try and preserve the artifacts of the process in the translation. This might result in a translation that less accurately reflects the finished work, but more accurately reflects the process by which it was made.

If the process is akin to a performance, then the work likely exists most importantly in documentation and description. The challenge shifts to making the documentation accessible. Even where there is tangible work, making any extant documentation accessible may be the highest priority, depending on the specifics of that particular work. In some cases, a more effective approach may be to enable the audience to re-inact the process/performance, especially where the process involves modalities in which the audience has more facility than the sensory modes required to access the documentation or the realized work.

The artist's established intent can be a useful guide in sorting through these priorities.