In its earliest incarnations, our modern word “translation” was associated with mobility. Its etymology has a history of moving and removing. Of carrying over. Of conveying a thing from place to place. Over time and through the creative evolution endured by all words, “translation” came to mean the turning of one language into another—the magic of communicating across contexts and cultures. At the same time, we know that something is often lost in translation. But how do we measure that loss? And if meaning is lost, where does it go?
The demolition of the building at 3721 Washington Boulevard is itself a form of translation—one that recalls the word’s migratory origins. This building is being returned to its material parts, and its bricks in particular will be carried—quite literally—to local community groups for design projects. The meaning of a building shifts through this action. Its bricks become as though words to be removed from one context and reconfigured in another, eager to be reborn.