Translating Relationships



Create self-initiated work around translation/exchange that doesn’t involve monetary values

Translating Relationships is used to provoke conversation between both parties of a relationship. Inspired by luggage tags and achievement badges, I created a set of five postcards and five digital stickers than can be used to label punitively label your relationships.

The use of letter grades is a criticism of the harsh pressures students in 2020 face. Sadly even after 12+ years of education, college is of no exception of the anxiety-ridden institutional grading system. At times, grading, especially in an artistic field, feel more like a ranking of personality or presentation than of the work and effort.

Front and back sides of the postcard set. Each postcard is 4’’ x 6’’

Disclaimer to my friends: the ratings used on these photos do not accurately represent my perception of our friendship, they have been labeled simply for mockup purposes. 

A sampling of how the sticker iterations are intended to be used on images. The stickers are supposed to elict the same uncomfortable feeling of the penal American grading system. There are two versions of each of the stickers (black and white, both types are shown at least once in the above mockups).

This project was birthed out of an archive I started a few months ago, when I decided I’d translate a very non-physical attribute into a tactile/utilitarian form. 

Taking all the digital data I had of a person and using that as my only representation of them, I archived their entire being into a single folder—containing Rich Text Formats (RTFs), photos, videos, audio, anything correspondence I had between them and myself—on my desktop. 

Thinking about representation, a postcard was created to “undo” the digital translation I had previously created when the file on my desktop was created. The postcard is symbolic of the entire relationship, the entire being, bottled into a single sendable artifact. 

Applying various analytic tools to the folder, the most frequented words and phrases, number of photos, total days of “friendship,” and  number of messages sent were calculated. The data was divided into five varying  degrees of relational classes (A,B,C,D,F) that mimic the typical American grading system. 



©2023 by MAURA LIAN (KELLY). All rights reserved.