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Mar de Sophia (2005)

Mar de Sophia is a collection of virtual poems in hypermedia format by Rui Torres, in which the animated text on the screen is automatically generated from the lexicon of the poet Sophia Andersen. This lexicon, which (re)constructs the work of Sophia, classifies and maps it within a network, and is indexed to code lists in XML, accessible to the reader, who can alter or add new words or units of meaning.

The animation of the text is also inscribed in the sound component of the combinatorial variations that result from this process. Whenever a word is changed, the poem performs a search in sound databases with readings of the poems. Thus, the reader can recreate any poem by Sophia in the axis of combinatorial language, adapting it to his/her liking, as well as send some of his accomplishments, both sonic and verbal, to a PHP server installed on an Internet server. The various versions of the readers are archived. The combinatorial code and engine were programmed with the collaboration of Nuno F. Ferreira and Filipe Valpereiro.

Mar de Sophia (Sophia’s Sea) is a piece of interactive poetry and tribute to the work of the Portuguese writer Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen. The poems are based on a statistic project developed within the language universe of Sophia’s 450 poems that were available online. After a comprehensive language selection, a list of words has been created enabling a text engine to create these virtual combinational poems.

The automatic generation of word lists taken from the original poems immerses the reader in the vocabulary of Sophia’s poetic universe: through the collaboration with technology these poetic fragments stopped being Sophia’s poems and become the reader’s very own appropriation of them. The reader may also increase and reduce the speed with which words and their sounds appear on the screen, select lists of words and sounds, and set options by sending them to a server available on the Internet.

Mar de Sophia is composed of two parts: “Retrato de uma Princesa” (Portrait of a Princess) and “Poema #2” (Poem #2), both displaying the poetic strength of remixing movement, sound and text. Such, in Mart de Sophia is a complex hypermedia work in which poetry leaves its materiality as an object and becomes an event.

Review: Fernanda Bonacho

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