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Transmission/Translation (2017)

A satellite and television taken from the artist’s childhood home are used to create an installation speaking to ideas of technology and diaspora. The dust and rust that had built up on the satellite through many years of disuse is carefully removed to leave an imprint of a language that is unknown to most of the western world. To those of which it is familiar, the text still remains almost just as difficult to decipher as the artist has transcribed the Khmer alphabet leaving the mistakes she has made along the way.

Linda’s childhood is punctured by both the Cambodian and Australian culture; her sense of transnational identity developing from having Cambodian parents but having grown up in Australia. The use of the Khmer alphabet references the artist’s childhood and schooling in the Khmer culture. Despite the number of years in Khmer school, the artist still struggles with things like writing out the Khmer alphabet, counting higher than 40 in Khmer and listening to Khmer television stations due to the formal way in which they speak on television. Throughout her childhood, the satellite was considered an important source of culture to both her and her parents. The satellite was a means through which her parents could access Khmer television shows they missed from back home. Conversely Linda used it to watch western cartoons and other western tv shows, choosing instead to immerse herself in the western environment she was born in. The artwork explores technology’s ability to contribute to an understanding of culture and language.

The television and satellite sit facing each other on the floor in a dimly lit room. The view of the television is obstructed by this placement, but insinuates a conversation between the two figures. Peering in between the two reveals static that illuminates the surface of the satellite. The satellite continuously attempts to relay a message to be interpreted by the television, however the presence of static confirms a disconnect between the two sources. Akin to the years of schooling failing to teach her the Khmer language, Linda also fails to receive the message being given to her by her parents, unable to translate their meaning. However, the static is randomly interrupted by the words “Transmission” and “Translation”. The words both break down into iterations such as “trans-mission/tr-ans-miss-ion/transla-tion/tran-sla-tion”. This both draws attention to the television through auditory cuts in the white noise and implies that some sort of message is being received.

The artwork also reveals the omnipotent nature of technology and signals captured and transmitted by satellites. The white noise and static criticises people’s indifference to watching nonsensical, nonmeaningful things in the hope that something meaningful, such as the interruption in the static, will occur again.