This entry was written in collaboration with the PO.EX. Digital Archive of Portuguese Experimental Literature. Special thanks to Rui Torres, director of Po-ex.net, for providing all the necessary information to complete this entry.
AlletSator (2017) is a hypermediatic and quantic cyberopera comprised of mystical 3D sceneries that can be explored during an aimless journey to the stars. According to Pedro Reis, in AlletSator, two strategies come together: “the strategy of automated generation and the strategy of networked hypertextuality” (Reis, 2007: 92). This post-apocalyptical journey finds a parallel in the rhizomatic and openness of AlletSator, as well as in the experimental approach that led to the creation of this multimodal opera. Together with electronic music composer Virgílio Melo, Pedro Barbosa created the opera AlletSator (or, written backwards, rotaStellA [Stella Route]). This opera was introduced to the public by the theatre company Esbofeteatro (stage director: João Paulo Costa) at the Teatro Helena Sá e Costa, during Porto 2001, European Capital of Culture. Its libretto was later published under the title AlletSator-XPTO.Kosmos.2001 (Edições Afrontamento, 2003). In 2007, with the collaboration of Luis Carlos Petry (hypermedia, sound, video, 3D), Pedro Barbosa released a CD-ROM containing the hypermediatic and quantic cyberopera AlletSator, a recreation of the live opera presented years before (Barbosa, Torres and Reis, 2007: 85). Two research groups were involved in the construction of this work: NuPH (Núcleo de Pesquisas em Hipermídia, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brazil) represented by Luis Carlos Petry, Sérgio Bairon, Rogério Cardoso, and CETIC (Centro de Estudos sobre Texto Informático e Ciberliteratura, Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Porto, Portugal), represented by Pedro Barbosa, Rui Torres and Pedro Reis.
A website dedicated to this project was launched around 2006 (http://po-ex.net/AlletSator/resumo.html). However, all the information concerning AlletSator is currently available at the archive of Portuguese experimental poetry. The entry “AlletSator – Ópera Quântica [Hipermédia]” (https://po-ex.net/taxonomia/materialidades/digitais/pedro-barbosa-luis-c...), for instance, provides a link to a .zip file containing AlletSator (version 4.5), as well as texts about the work. It also offers information divided into the following sections: [Áudios] includes actor’s voices, as well as sounds used in AlletSator; [Libreto] contains the live opera libretto presented in 2001 during Porto 2001, European Capital of Culture; [Imagens] displays screenshots from AlletSator.
Pedro Barbosa is a pioneering author of computer-generated literature in Portugal and AlletSator can be described as an extension of the creative research led by Pedro Barbosa since the seventies. His experiences resulted in the formulation, together with Abílio Cavalheiro, of the program SynText (programming language C++) published in 1996 under the title Teoria do Homem Sentado [theory of the sitting man]. A Java version of this program, named Sintetizador Textual Automático [Automatic Textual Synthetizer] or SINTEXT-WEB, was prepared in collaboration with José Manuel Torres and released in the book Motor Textual [Textual Engine] in 2000. Texts generated by SINTEXT-WEB (along with texts authored by Herberto Helder, Robin Shirley and Angel Carmona) were used to build AlletSator. This opera was created with the software Adobe Director and was released on CD-ROM (not a DVD-ROM as initially planned) in an issue of the journal Cibertextualidades 2, “Cyberdrama and Hypermedia,” organized by Rui Torres and Luís Carlos Petry. Even though previous versions existed, the 4.5 version remains the only available to the public.
In 2016, Rui Torres created a version of Teoria do Homem Sentado for the Electronic Literature Collection vol. III. In order to complete this version, Torres used Poemario.js, a program conceptualized by Rui Torres and programmed by Nuno Ferreira (available at: https://po-ex.net/taxonomia/materialidades/digitais/rui-torres-nuno-ferr...). Carlos Amaral contributed with the design and translations.
AlletSator is an ongoing project which entails a gradual incorporation of several materialities, from the pages of a libretto published in 2001, to the actor’s voices recorded for AlletSator. Its maze-like structure might remind readers of the vagrant reading promoted by hypertext fictions, as well as the multilinear structure of print predecessors such as “The Garden of Forking Paths” (1941) written by Jorge Luis Borges. This work also shares common features with the potential literature created by the OULIPO group, digital art, science fiction stories or first-person perspective video games. AlletSator is a hypermedial opera and, in the Wagnerian manner, makes use of technology to create futuristic and mystical sceneries that can be explored while listening to enigmatic narrations. In his notes on AlletSator, Pedro Reis mentions the difficulty of preventing the text’s fragmentation from sabotaging a viable experience (Reis, 2007: 90). As stated in the project’s introductory note, this work was expected to revolutionize the way stories were experienced: “AlletSator breaks with the past. (…) It changes the orthodox way of receiving a work” (Torres, 2011). In AlletSator, a comet has destroyed Planet Arret (mirror writing: “terrA” [Earth]). The migratory population, which the reader becomes part of, travels in the spaceship XPTO (an ancient word for Christ). In informal Portuguese, XPTO is used to describe something magnificent, of high quality, or technologically advanced (Maduro, 2015). This ship is heading to planet Orutuf Orp (or, written backwards, prO futurO [towards the future]) and readers will be introduced to a multilinear narrative making use of several semiotic languages to tell a story about the end/beginning of humanity.
AlletSator was presented at the following venues:
- OLE-Officina di Letteratura Elettronica (20th-21st January 2011, Centro di documentazione artistica do PAN Palazzo Arti Napoli, Napoli, Italy);
- 15ª Bienal de Vila Nova de Cerveira (25th July-27th September 2009, Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal);
- Mostra de Ciberliteratura (27th-31st June 2017 Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brasil);
- Presentation of AlletSator at Aula Aberta de Estética e Teoria Teatral [Aesthetics and Drama Theory Open Class] (3rd April 2007, Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Porto, Portugal);
- Presentation and debate about AlletSator 2.01 XPTO (15th February 2005, Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Porto, Portugal);
- Exhibition Language and Interface (14th-15th May 2015, University of Coimbra, Portugal);
- Exhibition Shapeshifting Texts (3rd-5th November 2016, Universität Bremen, Germany);
- SynText and AlletSator were both part of the exhibition ELO’17 - Electronic Literature > Affiliations, Communities, Translations (19th-22nd July 2017, Mosteiro de São Bento da Vitória, Porto, Portugal).
Read the ELD entry “Motor Textual” [Textual Engine] to know more about SynText. You can also experiment with SynText in ELO Collection Vol. III while reading Cyberliterature (1977-1993).
BARBOSA, Pedro, Rui Torres and Pedro Reis (2007). “Triálogo: prelúdio dialogante a AlletSator” (interview), in Revista Cibertextualidades 2, “Ciberdrama e Hipermédia,” org. Rui Torres and Luís Carlos Petry. Porto: Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa, pp. 67-86.
MADURO, Daniela Côrtes (2015). “Histórias por um fio: narração mediada em tempo real”, in Estudos de Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, n47, pp.141-156. Available at: http://periodicos.unb.br/index.php/estudos/article/view/17244/0.
REIS, Pedro (2007). “Notas sobre AlletSator: o retomar da viagem – sintetizador poético, ciberdrama e hipermédia”, in Revista Cibertextualidades 2, “Ciberdrama e Hipermédia,” org. Rui Torres and Luís Carlos Petry. Porto: Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa, pp. 87-94.
TORRES, Rui (2011). "AlletSator – Ópera Quântica [Hipermédia]" (entry). Available at: https://elmcip.net/creative-work/AlletSator. Also available at (in Portuguese): https://po-ex.net/taxonomia/materialidades/digitais/pedro-barbosa-luis-c....
Images were provided by the Po-ex.net archive. Available at: https://po-ex.net/taxonomia/materialidades/digitais/luis-carlos-petry-al....