Luis Pérez González, University of Manchester
School of Modern Languages Room G10 43 Woodland Road Bristol BS8 1UU
Immaterial Subtitling in the Digital Culture Value Chain
Implications for Subtitle Reception Studies
Studies on subtitle reception in the digital culture account for viewers’ spectatorial experience in terms of compliance with or deviation from established metrics of readability, patterns of semiotic resource deployment, and standards of translational competence. Although it acknowledges the growing complexity of subtitling practices in the new media ecology, research on participatory subtitling reception remains driven by premises, concepts and tools modelled on professional subtitling that construe prosumerism as disruptive. This stance raises multifold issues. The study of subtitle reception by networked audiences made up of geographically dispersed viewers, for example, tends to be rooted in the same heuristic processes and use the same tools as those focusing on monolingual national communities during the analogic era. Likewise, research on the reception of participatory subtitling remains wedded to the assumption that viewers’ engagement with translated media content is confined to the site demarcated by the margins of the frame.
Drawing on a body of interdisciplinary scholarship, this session problematises the study of reception in the era of immaterial subtitling. It will argue that immaterial subtitling cannot be conceptualised merely as the production of translated commodities at multiple levels of networked and flexible (amateur) production cycles. Unlike its professional counterpart, immaterial subtitling enables the singularisation of media content through changes that require the ongoing involvement of consumers and producers (including consumers-turned-producers) – not just while, but also after watching. Immaterial subtitling will therefore be characterised as a process driven by the mobilization of information, experience and affect that outlasts the consumption of the subtitles – continuing to reconfigure and transform the subjective and interpersonal fabric of individual consumers and their imagined transnational communities. The session will also engage with the widely held view that immaterial subtitling displaces ‘material’ (professional) subtitlers as providers of cultural labour, drawing attention to the ways in which the reception of material and immaterial subtitling is co-opted to boost capitalist accumulation in the digital age.
This interactive session will include opportunities for discussion around the rise of immaterial subtitling as an alternative regime for capturing social productivity, and the ways in which viewers engage with this form of value extraction. Ultimately, it raises the question of whether translation studies is currently able to yield significant insights into the reception of immaterially subtitled content.
Luis Pérez-González is Professor of Translation Studies and Co-director of the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies at the University of Manchester, UK, Co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space (2016-2020), and co-editor, with Mona Baker and Bolette Blaagaard of the Routledge series Critical Perspectives on Citizen Media. He is author of Audiovisual Translation: Theories, Methods and Issues (Routledge 2014) and Editor of The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation (2018). His articles have appeared in a wide range of international journals, including The Translator, The Journal of Language and Politics, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Journal of Pragmatics and Language and Intercultural Communication. He is the Academic Director of the International Research School for Media Translation and Digital Culture that the Baker Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University will run in July 2019. He posts on audiovisual translation and citizen media on his personal website http://www.luisperezgonzalez.org.