The black and the white, reflections on fog
by Jorge Luiz Antonio
(PUC SP, Brazil )
English revision by Joel Weishaus (USA)
Regina Célia (1999-2001). O branco e o negro com Julien
Sorel, incluindo O Jogo da Neblina . RJ, cd-rom, author's
edition. Bilingual text (Portuguese and English). English
version by Sabrina Gledhill.
cd-rom (compact disk read-only memory), contains data that can be
read but that cannot be altered. With it the reading changes. The
reader-operator takes the square plastic box, opens it, takes the
disk out and puts it in the computer's CD drive. The opening and closing
of the pages of a book becomes clicking with a mouse.
this act on, two readings start: the computer's reading in order to
understand the software by which the cd-rom was composed, and the
reader who operates the computer with the aim of making a reading
out of the printed book: "a reader who surfs on a screen, programming
readings, in an evanescent universe of signs, but eternally available,
on condition that he can't loose the route to get them" (Santaella
this way it is possible to access O branco e o negro com Julien Sorel,
incluindo O Jogo da Neblina 1, a cd-rom by Regina Célia Pinto.
That is: O branco e o negro: reflexões sobre a neblina , according
to the subtitle of the work, which is part of project called Bibliotheca
das Maravilhas . 2
is a cd-rom, and, for the Regina Célia Pinto, is an animated
and interactive object-book in a digital context. Before, O Branco
e o Negro was object-book, then site, and becomes cd-rom. A great
inter-relation was established, including the author's project: it
was inspired in The Rouge et Le Noir, Stendhal's best known French
novel, and the Brazilian poem "Fog" by Nelson Ascher, and
it established a dialogue with Simulacra and Simulations by Jean Baudrillard.
Stendhal's novel, Ascher's poetry and Baudrillard's philosophy become
artistic language by means of a relationship among images, words and
sounds in a digital environment in Regina's cd-rom. Hypertextuality
and interactivity is the way to contact the reader-operator through
European and Brazilian cultures, world vision about human simulation,
different eras (XIXth and XXth centuries, even XXIst), fictional spaces
( the virtual and "real" ones). Literature and poetry, as
language arts which make connections with sound and sights in a digital
environment. As Regina Célia Pinto comments, from re-reading
Stendhal and Ascher, she noticed that "the point in common between
the novel and the poem is the dissimulation of the human being who
hides his thoughts and feelings, and the fog which also dissimulates
the reality, avoiding to see clearly the landscape" . 3
the cover, an elegant figure, with some similarity to Charlie Chaplin's
most famous character dressed as being in XIXth century, seems to
be on the top a white pyramid, and, on the bottom, the Infinite. While
Julien Sorel, on the top of pyramid, invites the reader-operator to
make a cyberspatial trip to the universe of imagination, and, also,
to the digital world. An interactive and hypertextual journey, it
offers a passage to the literature and poetry.
and white. White and negro. Red and negro. The colors we imagine,
are beyond the different tones of white and black. The nuances. The
go and the come. The rudeness of life in society. The intertextuality.
The re-readings. The hypertextuality. Regina Celia Pinto, Marie-Henri
Beyle / Stendhal 4 (1783-1842), Jean Baudrillard 5, Nelson Ascher
6. Worlds, times, spaces, countries, different authors. Images. Sounds.
Movements. And the fog, the veil that makes difficult the vision of
things. Many veils of life: word, image, sound, message, our own limitations,
the intermediate sign, several meanings. That is why O branco e o
negro can be seen as a game of digital words, images, and sounds in
a hypertextual interaction. It is a net of sounds, voices, cultures,
meanings in search of symbols, similarly constructed as Le Rouge et
game of chiaroscuro, of geometric forms, of the landscapes on the
bottom, with tones of gray, all of them joined to make a work of fast
and agreeable reading-access . 7
site which originated from the cd-rom made part of the exhibition
Poemas Visitados Versão Preto & Branco (Visited Poems:
Black and White Version), at the Galeria SESC Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, from November 22nd, 1999 to January 7th, 2000, under the curatorship
of Marcelo Frazão. The cd-rom will be also presented in the
II Mostra Interpoesia (2nd Interpoetry Exhibition) at the Universidade
Presbiteria Mackenzie, whose curator is Wilton Azevedo, and in DMF
2001 - The Digital Media Festival, at the University of Philippines,
under the curatorship of Fatima Lasay, both events coming in October,
author, Regina Célia Pinto, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
earned a teaching certificate in Drawing and Art at the Escola de
Belas Artes of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. She has
a Master's degree in Art History, in the area of Anthropology of Art
/ EBA, UFRJ, with the Master's thesis "Four Views In Search of
a Reader, Important Women, Art and Identity". She has written
a variety of academic works, presented several papers to congresses,
and participated in many individual and collective art exhibitions.
She taught Drawing at the Colégio Pedro II, and presently is
coordinator of informaticos laboratory in the same school. Nowadays,
she has been devoting herself to find a specific artistic language
for computers and holding one-woman and joint exhibitions that ally
the real and the virtual. She is also editing (with Marcelo Frazão
and Paulo Villela) Arte on Line, an e-magazine about Art and Technology,
that intends to be a democratic way to show ideas and works from all
over the world that reference these issues. Her works include paintings,
computer art, digital art, sites, and cd-roms. Cybercircus, with Issue
Number Three of the collection. "Biblioteca das Maravilhas"
will be coming soon this year.
cd-rom can be seen as a digital re-reading of a poem, a novel and
a philosophical essay. A certain relationship is established in the
choice of Stendhal, which remembers Xavier de Maistre 8, recalls Lawrence
Sterne 9, and brings us Machado de Assis 10 and the city of Rio de
Janeiro. And also has us remember José de Alencar 11, by the
tissues of the construction of a digital character. Ends of centuries
and beginnings of others all done among re-readings. Analogies, allegories,
the universality of art: France in the beginning of XIXth century
showing characters who "present" themselves to Julien Sorel,
by which the brume metaphor is re-read in Nelson Ascher's poem, on
which the Baudrillard's philosophy bases the concepts of game and
simulation, and these conjunctions transform themselves in a type
of philosophy of living for the readers-operators of the digital world,
and the literature and poetry keep alive, updated, configured in the
the short motion picture Rendez vous à Montréal, by
Michel Bret, brings together Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart (Plaza
e Tavares 1998: 50,166), O Branco e o Negro brings Julien Sorel, Stendhal's
French character, and brings him for a expedition in Brazil. It gives
a romantic color to the history similar to Brazilian Romantic novels,
and of other countries, and "makes" the history to seem
true. Regina puts some letters and dates in order to build a character
as it is alive, real, existing in the XXth century. It is similar
to what José de Alencar elaborated for the novel Lucíola:
the prostitute's history is told by a man in a letter addressed to
an old lady.
virtual narrative of Regina brings this tone, this ambience, playing
a trick on the reader-operator, making the history become a fact that
existed, and it shows as a creation of the character Julien Sorel.
The reader-operator who doesn't know Stendhal's book, or the Ascher's
poem, can notice a scientific report of an expedition made by Julien
Sorel, from 1810 to 1820, to the Serra do Mar , whose map is presented
in two routes. Only a more careful look can deviate the attention
to the "true" history, noticing that the route is constructed
under a disguising form of a mouse.
accessed the English version in order to see how it would behave in
another language. As the cd-rom was sent to other countries, I have
a rare opportunity to read a good comment from Fatima Lasay, from
University of Philippines. As she hadn't read Stendhal, as I had,
she interpreted the cd-rom in relation to a kind of historical Romantic
have looked at Regina's CD-ROM again today and have tried to understand
it as much as I can. It is a work that I think requires a good understanding
of the histories that it refers to, for instance, the expeditions
of Julien Sorel and the conditions of life in his country and in Brazil
in the 19th century.
me, this is a very good approach in artistic creation - be it in poetry,
sound, or image. Although they take longer to understand, I enjoy
works that have a very culture-specific content or context in both
creation and appreciation.
Fog Game, although lost in many years, to me appears to be a process
for Julien Sorel to understand the world and its circumstance. He
makes a game, from what seem a perilous journey, in order to make
sense of why people behave the way they do. It is like he has created
a myth from the elements of his journey in a foreign country.
Fog Game presented in the CD-ROM - using the interface and metaphor
of dice and boardgame - to me is also an analysis and a simulation
of Sorel's journey. With the Game, I feel that I am being taken into
the caves and summits that Sorel has reached and at each point in
the journey there is a moment of meditation about human relationships.
is it that Sorel has been searching for?
title, "Reflections on Fog," informs me of different meanings.
It could mean that there is meditation or deep thinking occasioned
by the presence of the white darkness of fog in a lonely journey.
It could also mean that there is something being cast or mirrored
on fog, perhaps an image or a shadow or light, which is materially
impossible. But fog can diffuse light and cause what may seem a reflection.
I can imagine how the linear and structured mind and imagination of
the Westerner, Sorel, must be completely enamored by the occlusion
of light and shadow, the dampening of his vision by the nonlinear,
aural and omnipresent fog. Such a mind would seek organization and
structure, to put fogs in little boxes and analyze them to the death.
CD-ROM has brought me all these experiences. It is a wonderful piece
of work, Jorge, that has a very fragile and human touch not often
found in many digital works. Please extend my congratulations to her!
the same viewpoint, Fatima analyzed Julien Sorel as a character who
transmits a symbolic message of encouragement. It is possible to notice
that there is a similarity, by color and by theme, to the book and
video Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story, by Richard Bach.
the cd-rom stimulates a reflection: how to see objectives through
the fog? One of the most important messages is the dissimulation:
"the human being who hides feelings and thoughts and the fog
that dissimulates reality, avoiding to see clearly the landscape"
14. The tones of white and black serve to show real and metaphorically
the dissimulation and lead to a "different" thinking: the
loss of other colors make keen our sense to the nuances of grayscale,
and it is in this point that things become similar, confused, many
times without frontiers or boundaries.
structure of the cd-rom allows linear and nonlinear accesses: /Julien
Sorel/, /Routes/, /Letters/, /Dice Analysis/, /? ...15 /, and /Exit/.
The interactivity of O Branco e o Negro is composed by many dialogues,
similar or different to what Fatima Lasay and I did along this review.
Each reader-operator will be able to access a sequence of surprises
(even the repeated ones are interesting and necessary) expressing
approval of the type of scenes, or quick and fast panels. The way
to follow depends on the reader-operator, only on his/her decision,
similar to what this review did, or didn't do.
/Julien Sorel/, /Routes/ and /Letters/, it is possible to notice an
introduction to a partial imaginary biography and an expedition. The
fragmented information seems to the reader-operator a verisimilitude
and empathy: it looks like a digital Romantic historic novel, but
is a work of fiction which surpasses the tissue of words, for it is
presented in a digital environment, with resources such as hypertextuality
Analysis/ establishes a relationship between the places reached by
Julien, and a list of geometrical figures. Both of them suggest a
predominantly visual syntax which work as geometrical fogs; that is,
the cubes made out of fog, that lead the reader-operator and the character
Julien to have by this or that vision. Magnifying glasses, close vision
or distant, while clearer or not, all of them avoid a clear vision
of reality. And it brings to our memory A Luneta Mágica (The
Magical Lens) by Joaquim Manoel de Macedo 16, a Brazilian novel that
symbolizes the search for the clear vision of things and persons in
the world in which we live, while the lens represents the vision formed
by society, language, culture, family, etc.
Game/, a kind of second part of the cd-rom, begins with /?.../ and
it is the moment of metaphors which are represented by a circle of
six lozenges corresponding to six faces / numbers of a small cube
for gaming. The reader-operator is free to choose the way to go.
accessing the cd-rom, every reader-operator establishes a relationship
between biographical notes about Julien Sorel with the sparse notes
about places where he went to, letters he sent to two women, and the
texts by Stendhal, Ascher and Baudrillard. The choice of numbers and
data establishes a metaphor with Sorel's choice, a real reader-operator's
choice by his/her own way, in a numerical order or not.
Branco e o Negro: Reflexões sobre a Neblina freely uses geometrical
figures (polyhedrons, cubes, rectangles, lozenges, squares, etc.)
to present the veils and filters that render difficult visions of
reality; but this fog / brume / veil / filter is the message that
stays with the interaction of this work of digital art, which is the
Regina Célia Pinto's cd-rom, for it brings us the colored lights
of things paradoxically by means of the nuances of the white and the
black and by the lack of its characteristic clearness. The starting
point of the creation was the world of fictional words (Stendhal's
literature and Ascher's poetry) which transforms into digital poetry
and art, bringing together real and virtual times in a multimedia
context. It is always the existent literature that promotes new creations.
A virtual meeting among centuries and cultures which seem apart from
countries and times, but can be united by creation, by the symbolic
experience and also by virtuality. The arts, and especially literature,
are the way to this knowledge. Literature, which is the fountain of
all knowledge, keeps alive its multi-meanings. As Barthes said: "If,
by I don't know which excess of barbarity, all our disciplines should
be banished from education, except one, it is the discipline of literature
that should be safe, for all the sciences are presented in the literary
monument" (Barthes 1995: 18).
ON LINE. RJ, revista eletrônica. In: http://www.arteonline.arq.br
ASCHER, Nelson (1998). Neblina. In: Holanda, Heloísa Buarque
de (org.), Esses poetas: uma antologia dos anos 90. RJ, Aeroplano.
BACH, Richard (1977). Fernão Capelo Gaivota. Trad. Antonio
Ramos Rosa e Madalena Rosález (original inglês). RJ,
BAIRON, Sério (1995). Multimídia. SP, Global. (Contato
BAUDRILLARD, Jean (1991). Simulacros e simulações. Lisboa,
Relógio D'Água Editorial. BUGAY, Edson Luiz e
ULBRICHT, Vânia Ribas (2000). Hipermídia. Florianópolis,
GALERIA SESC COPACABANA (1999). Poemas visitados versão preto
& branco: catálogo. Curadoria de Marcelo Frazão.
RJ, Persona Press.
SANTAELLA, Lúcia (1997). A leitura fora do livro, in: http://www.pucsp/~cos-puc/epe/mostra/santaella.htm
STENDHAL (Marie-Henri Beyle) (1971). O vermelho e o negro. Trad. De
Sousa e Casemiro Fernandes (original francês). 1.ed. SP, Globo
/ Abril Cultural. (Os Imortais 23).
The subtitle means: The White and the Black: reflections on the Fog.
Biblioteca das Maravilhas means Library of Wonders.
Email sent by the Regina Célia Pinto to the author on September,
Marie-Henri Beyle (1783-1842), with the pseudonym of Stendhal, was
a French writer, author of "Le Rouge et le Noir" (1830)
Jean Baudrillard is a famous social French philosopher, Professor
Emeritus by the University of Paris, author of "Simulacra and
Simulation", among several books.
Nelson Ascher is a Brazilian writer, critic and poet.
It is necessary to point out that the way we read a cd-rom is intermediated
by the acess we have to do by putting the cd-rom in a computer and
clicking the mouse, seeing the screen, and so on. So I preferred to
name this act as reading-access.
Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852) pursued a military career, and wrote
"Voyage around my Room", and "Nocturnal Expedition
around my Room".
Lawrence Sterne (1713-1768) was an English writer and author of "The
Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman".
Machado de Assis (1839-1908) is the most important Brazilian writer,
author of "Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas"
(1881), a book that initiated the Brazilian Realism, with "O
Mulato" (1881), by Aluizio Azevedo.
José de Alencar (1829-1877) is an important Brazilian writer.
Among his vast works, like "The Guarani", "Iracema",
and "Ubirajara", there are many urban novels, which presented
a portrait of Brazilian society of his times, specially the city of
Rio de Janeiro and many regions of Brazil: "The Lady", "Five
Minutes", Lucíola, etc.
The Serra do Mar, a Brazilian geographic space, is a 1500 km. scarp
running parallel to the Atlantic coast in Southeastern, separating
the coastal strip, the littoral, from the planalto beyond, the traditional
home of Brazil's coffee plantations. The mountains attain a height
of 2787m, in the case of Pico de Agulhas Negras, in Itaitaia National
Park, one of Brazil's highest summits. The mountain system includes
a number of ranges with individual names, such as Serra da Bocaina,
Serra da Mantiqueira, Serra Negra, Serra Quilombo, Serra de Paranapiacaba,
Serra dos Orgaos, etc., and is not confined to the main land; the
islands of the south-east coast such as Ilha Bela and Ilha Grande
are part of the same range. The ecosystem supported throughout the
region is known as Mata Atlantica, or Atlantic Rainforest, which originally
continued up the littoral as far as Bahia; vestiges of Atlantic forest
even exist in isolated areas near Natal on the northeast.
Email by Fatima Lasay to the author on August 28th, 2001. Fatima Lasay
is industrial designer, is acquiring her master degree at the University
of Philippines, and is pioneer in e-art in her country.
See note number 5.
Fog Game (O Jogo da Neblina) belongs to the part marked with /? .../.
Joaquim Manoel de Macedo (1820-1882) is a Brazilian writer, one of
the founders of Romantic novel in Brazil and one of the creator of
Brazilian theater. His most important work is "A Moreninha"
((The Little Brunette Girl), a very agreeable novel published in 1844,
that became the introducer of Romantic fiction in Brazilian literature.