"Double exposure" : the haunting voice of Hong Kong and the politics of translation

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


“Double exposure” here refers to a commonly known technique in photography. When it’s putting to work, the film has to be exposed twice to two different images composing a surface of symbiotic nature. However, this may not be a harmonized co-existence. This second image may also imply intervention, especially in the creation of ghostly image on a surface. This image is made to conjure up the appearance of something which is absent or unwanted. Moreover, it’s presence, indicating deviation, becomes an indispensable part of a totality. It overflows into the first one resulting in incongruity which comes from an inequality as the first one is explicitly situated. The opaque and faint appearance of the second image represents “secondariness” which signifies otherness. It is also competing for recognition as it has the power to overwhelm and to relativize. This concept of double exposure is to allude to a sort of existence of translation in Hong Kong, especially Cantonese translation. Cantonese, a southern dialect-- the mother tongue of Hong Kong people, is marginalized in all formal occasions as well as in schools. Cantonese has been perceived as a threat to the Chinese national language Putonghua and becomes heated topic again recently. This tension heightens the local consciousness of identity issues. Reasons for causing the absence of Cantonese translation and the vague appearance of it will be discussed to see how this faint voice of “secondariness” be heard and what it means to Hong Kong identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Literary Humanities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Translation
  • Hong Kong
  • Identity
  • Language


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