On more than one occasion, the artist Marcel Duchamp published some unusual written works. Rather than to write and produce a book, the artist chose to produce, in limited edition, a box full of reproductions of small handwritten and drawn notes, not unlike a database, or a file-share of an artist’s hard drive. Rather than being a completed creative work, the notes are ideas for, or about, creative work.
The translation of these notes, from French to English, and from box to book, proved to be a difficult endeavor, a task for which a new name was coined: “typotranslation”.
‘It’s as though a science textbook has been put into type by an intoxicated typographer with a strange sense of humour and unusual aesthetic flair,’ wrote Rick Poynor in ‘Typotranslation’, published in Eye 38 at the end of 2000. The subject was the typographic translation of Marcel Duchamp’s handwritten notes for The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (also known as the Large Glass), a painstaking project undertaken twice by the British artist Richard Hamilton, whodied on Tuesday (13 September) at the age of 89.
Hamilton’s first typotranslation of these notes, the Green Book, was published by Lund Humphries in 1960. His translation of a second set of Duchamp’s notes, à l’infinitif was another labour of love, which took three years.
Source: Eye Magazine’s Blog
See also: The Green Box