“Liberdade” is a Brazilian 3D poetic exploration of the word and feeling of Freedom by integrating literature and video game language. This project was produced at the Brazilian “literary creation in a digital environment” workshop organized by “Núcleo de Pesquisas em Informática Literatura e Linguística” from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in December of 2013. This project was conceived in the II and IV International Symposium, and was released in 2014 using Unity engine. In 2016 it was published in the Electronic Literature Collection 3.
The images, animation, sounds, words and origami that are distributed around the graphic-visual space weave a symbolic fabric that can be interpreted in multiple ways. At first sight it appears to be a reference towards Liberdade, the famous neighborhood in São Paulo of the same name. As the readers/users navigate, it becomes clear that it is also an exploration of the relationship between the remembered and the forgotten. To reflect this relationship, it uses concepts of ergodic literature (Aarseth, 1997) by allowing the user/reader to navigate the work without the imposed order of a linear narrative. This is reinforced by the paratext, such as knowing that Liberdade is the most “Asian” district in São Paulo. It is the home to the world's largest ethnic Japanese community outside Japan. This district gets its name from its dark and conflicted past. Slaves and convicts were executed in the Largo da Forca (Gallows Square) located in the district, and it was said that their only path to liberty (liberdade) was through death (Emiliano, 1999). The fractured elements scattered around the world, such as Japanese symbols and a prison, can be pieced together by the user/reader. This builds a greater context for the urban and human aspects that are native to the district without imposing a single narrative/experience.
As “Liberdade” starts, the reader/user is prompted with a screen with instructions for how to explore the world using the keyboard to walk and mouse to look around. The work is experienced from a first-person perspective and the only information given about the character is that they are not able to swim but can jump exceptionally high. There are ten areas in this metaphorical island representation of Liberdade. The island is surrounded by the only named location, the Forgetfulness Sea. The reader/user enters the word through a single straight path that leads outside a cave towards a central elevated area, which Maíra Borges Wiese calls the Word Circle. As Wiese describes in her article (2016), this small section before the Word Circle is the only area in this world with an actual established position. Following the static beginning of "Liberdade", the reader/user is free to roam around the different areas equally, unrestricted by a path or objective. Glowing orbs and pictures representing memories are scattered around the island and passing through them plays an audio recording. As the user/readers explore these memories, they are stored in an inventory with no fixed position. This inventory is easily accessible by a left click on the mouse. These memories are made with different types of texts; they are poems, reflections, dialogues and sometimes just images of a specific perspective of someone who lived in the district. These text varieties reflect that there was not a single author behind the project, but a multidisciplinary group. If the user falls into the Forgetfulness Sea surrounding the island, they must restart from scratch.
The world of “Liberdade” is divided into ten areas that allow the player to experience memories by walking towards them. The following are descriptions of some of these areas. In The Beginning there are words connected to the concept word of the title, including livre-servil, which are a reference to the poem “Ninho de Metralhadoras” (1976) by Erthos Albino de Souza, one of the first Brazilian authors to use a computer as part of the process of composing a poem. In the Word Circle, there is a male voice under an elevated area reciting a poem and random words on the floor circling continuously. In the Advertisement Maze, the walls are constructed with text selling various forms of prostitution, and muffled female voices are heard through memories. The Crossword Bridge has seven audio clips that are a mixture between a female and male voice. Some of the words they are using are related to the Word Circle. Another area contains poems, mostly containing romantic subject matter, written in the Japanese-style of Haikai(Haiku). The poems recite themselves when the user touches them. The Prison is the opposite of the other areas, as it is the only enclosed environment, and the audio clip that plays is a guilty verdict with death penalty. “Liberdade” uses its non-linear narrative to distance the reader/user from being a player and makes them work more like a designer, a person who projects and shapes the work through the materials that are given - a configurator.
This entry was composed as a part of Astrid Ensslins's course, Digital Humanities 510 - Digital Fiction, at University of Alberta in February, 2020.