011000 Creative Possibilities between Cartemas and Hypermedia



Master’s degree in Visual Arts. São Paulo State University Júlio de Mesquita Filho, UNESP

Post-graduate in Hypermedia Design. Anhembi-Morumbi University

e-mail: eweiz@uol.com.br


MARINHO, Fernando

Post-graduate in Hypermedia Design. Anhembi-Morumbi University

e-mail: f_marinho@uol.com.br



Post-graduate in Hypermedia Design. Anhembi-Morumbi University

e-mail: _leocadio@uol.com.br




This article treats of the relationships between Aloísio Magalhães' cartemas and the hypermedia. The cartemas represent, inside of Aloísio's production, his experience as designer mixed to the artist's inquietude. In the hypermedia the constructive characteristics of the cartemas are potentialized and they make possible countless interactive associations.

 (Cartema is a neologism representing collage graphical experiments using postcards).


011000 Creative Possibilities between Cartemas and Hypermedia


“...in the evolution process of a culture, there is nothing really “new”. The new is only a changed form of the past, enriched in the process continuity, or revealed again, of a latent repertoire. In reality, the elements are always the same: only the vision can be enriched by new incidences of light, on the different sides of the same crystal.”[1]

Aloísio Magalhães was, in chronological and simplified order, an artist, a designer and a mentor of cultural policy in Brazil. He was restless in his search for a way to exist, adding up all experiences in an “open and flexible process of constant re-feeding”[2]. As a natural consequence of this particularity, he moved freely and confidently through the various creative territories.

Acknowledged as a major icon of Brazilian design history, Aloísio left us some expressive art works, extremely particular, coherent and modern, through a strict methodology of "systematisation of procedures for the issuance of visual messages"[3], as well as of its construction, on the conceptual level.

As an artist, his main quality was the appreciation of visuality. This characteristic permeated all his actions. Aloísio Magalhães added free associations of form and plasticity to the strict technical requirements of the profession of a designer. Even when he acted on the public level, he was an artist and a man of broad vision, who could not accept the precarious way of dealing with the country’s cultural issues. Design was his choice at a time when he no longer believed in art as an individual expression, and this new language, resulting from the new techniques of serial production, was the path to society’s sensitisation.

This research has its start in a cutting of the work of the designer-artist (or artist-designer). The historian Antônio Houaiss called that work Cartema in the 70’s. For many people, Cartema is Aloísio Magalhães’ most original work, a result of the author’s visual sensibility and maturity, representing the exchange between the fields of art and design.

Cartema is assembled from a series of postcards, placed side by side, following a previous analysis of combinations, fixed on a firm support. The postcard is the minimum structural unit, the base-module, from which the composition is organised.

Having a postcard as the composition unit of Cartema was entirely in accordance with the Brazilian artistic context at the time, which, since the 60’s, had been bringing objects of daily life into the artistic discourse. The intention to formally research on the creative possibilities resulting from the use of postcards as artistic matter emerged when Aloísio Magalhães, author of the national monetary standard at the time, observed the printing tests of the new “Cruzeiro” notes” in the Netherlands, in 1970. While observing these tests, he realised that in the configuration formed by the repetition of notes of one Cruzeiro, there was a potentially rich theme to be developed.

Cartemas, easily made and of great visual effect, result from some formal procedures such as image repetition, rotation and mirroring, widely used by Aloísio Magalhães in his projects, mainly those of corporate image, in the 60’s and 70’s.

In Cartemas, the mirroring effect has its correspondent in rotation. After rotation, the postcards are overlapped, grouping together areas of equivalent visual value. New formal units originate from this process, that on the whole, result in a new image, which is different from the one contained in the postcard. The base-module is not lost within this process, since it can still be recognised, but its unique character is completely destroyed; the base-module is the generator of the structure that enables new visualisations.

Photography re-dimensioned the concept of space and, through the photographic image printed on the postcard; the space came to meet the observer, making the postcard a window of access to several worlds. The postcard is included in the image game of Cartemas and therein the cutting of reality only exists when one perceives the composition base-module on the whole of the work. This reality forms other abstract realities in a sheer game of images.

Our proposal is to continue with this image game in the digital environment with the Net Art work entitled 011000. This work was inspired in the Cartemas and no longer uses postcards; instead it uses what this team has elected as their match on cyberspace, namely, webcam flux images, on-line radios and newspapers. These three base-modules will form compositions in which, at times the images of the webcams will be manipulated, pasted, mirrored, rotated, overlapped, and at other times they will be the “letter-news” of newspapers and the sounds of on-line radios, forming endless information and visual textures meshes.




The use of postcards as composition matter of Cartemas takes us to a recurring topic now a day: appropriation. The displacement of design objects to the artistic field comes from the avant-garde movements at the beginning of the 20th century. The ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, created as from 1913, are what one could call genuine art of appropriation, for he used to extract, from daily life, objects produced in series to bring them to the art context, without any or almost any intervention. This action well illustrates what the German philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) wrote in The work of art at the time of its technical reproducibility, with reference to the authenticity and sole existence of a piece of artwork disappearing with its technical reproduction, a process that takes shape in the 19th century, after the industrial revolution, and accelerates in the 20th century.

In Cartemas, the postcard is obtained from daily life, possessed by the artist, and its use is subverted by the artistic making. The postcard, despite still being able to be identified as such, has become the artwork’s composition unit. The artist’s action over the appropriated object rescales its meaning. The postcard – previously restricted to a single meaning related to mail and, obviously, recognised by its form and use –  when inserted into the work of art system, has its interpretative field expanded and is also paradoxically interpreted as a novelty.

This study carries out an analysis between appropriation, according to Aloísio Magalhães’ initiative with postcards, and the hypermedia project 011000 that, in turn, takes possession of webcams, on-line newspapers and radios to create an interactive work of art in real time. With this in view, we make use of a text by George P. Landow [4], which establishes a very interesting relationship between hypermedia and appropriation. With reference to hypertext and collage, he approximates the characteristics of these languages and builds a bridge between them, legitimating thus the hypothesis of this team as to the connections between Cartemas and the hypermediatic language.

The connection between hypertext virtuality and appropriation becomes clear when we go over the history of collage and appropriation and the importance of the artists who made use of these techniques in their process of artwork creation.


Hypermedia and media art


All technology used in surveys that determined the features of hypertext, hypermedia, and their ramifications is based on binary codes of zeros and ones and of how their combinations generate information.

The concept of computer-generated image, text and sound is completely different from what it was in the traditional media previous to digital languages. The computer operates with numbers, not images; it is the plastic representation of mathematical expressions.

Today, with new technologies, they are intelligent images that transform themselves, change and interact among themselves and with their interactors. They are no longer images to be passively contemplated and admired. They are objects of manipulation and pure performance.

These images are manipulated ad infinitum; updating an image does not drain the possibilities of visualising it. The numeric image, now, has a specific behaviour – it is an image-event process. The event, in this case, is the metamorphosis, the transformation, the invention. It is the transformative movement in time and, for existing only in time, the electronic image is pure duration; it is the process duration. Updating images is less important than their potentialities.

Edmond Couchot [5] considers as a peculiar trait of numeric technologies their capacity to function in this new temporal modality: real time. In his opinion, real time changes the mechanisms of treatment and circulation of information, and its characteristic is the interactive connection between man and computer. Real time puts people in another place, another reality, that is simultaneous to palpable reality. It is a space whose continuous data flow breaks territorial barriers and social hierarchies. 

This real time is potentialized by cyberspace; “the space of communication is open by the global interconnection of computers and computer memories”[6]. The characteristic of cyberspace is the digital codification that gives the flowing character to information, which can be treated hypertextually and interactively in real time.

This is the time of digital technologies. Artists, always in touch with their time, could not let these new technical possibilities go by unnoticed and, right from the very beginning, they saw huge creative potential opening up with the computer: “Art exists to remove us from habits, routine, established codes, their rules, making us feel that we are still free to adopt them, but equally free to transform, surpass and reinvent them.”[7]

When a digital work of interactivity is proposed, whether as manipulation of image, sound and text, or as construction of senses, the work is considered as a flow of connection and disconnection of temporary updates, works whose images are pieces of a potential composition that will only be updated upon the action of an interactor. It is the artist transgressing the computer environment for something that was not previously thought of.

For Arlindo Machado[8], the work of art now is accomplished exclusively when reading takes place, and in each one of these reading actions it assumes a different form. Each reading is, in a certain way, the first and the last. Works like Timescape and !C!, by the French Reinald Drouhin or Riot and P-soup, by the American Mark Napier, are examples of works of art that can be simultaneously updated in real time.

Final considerations

On site 011000, just as in Aloísio Magalhães’ work, the intersection between art and design characterises the project. The conception and execution of the site could not do without this intersection. Site 011000 gives continuity to Aloísio’s proposal of touching society.

Just as Aloísio appropriated postcards to create artistic compositions, site 011000 appropriates data available in the worldwide web to generate compositions that maintain a dialogue with their own environment. They are compositions that renew themselves all the time as they happen in real time; they are in constant metamorphosis, and, besides, the work of art only takes place upon the interactor’s action: he is the one determining the meaning of the artwork.

In postcards (formal unit of Cartemas), photography allowed the space to meet the observer. On site 011000 the interactor manipulates and creates images from this reality.

On site 011000, formal procedures of rotation and overlapping used in Cartemas are associated with other possible formal procedures in the digital environment, as image overlapping and mirroring.

Each of these media (zero1thousand e zero2thousandl) used suggest a path always inspired in Cartemas: repetition, cutting, overlapping, mirroring, simultaneity, game and composition are key words in the preparation of this research and, consequently, the digital piece.

On site 011000, real time, a characteristic of cyberspace, is an element of composition.

The simultaneity provided by computer interface allows for extremely rich relationships, unthinkable then. Combinations of sounds, images and texts of several locations establish multiple readings in a potential cybertrip.



[1-3] LEITE, João de Souza (org.). A herança do olhar: o design de Aloísio Magalhães.

Rio de Janeiro : Artviva, 2003. P. 11, 11, 156.

[4] LANDOW, George P. Hypertext as Collage-Writing. In LUNENFELD, Peter editor, The digital Dialetic New Essays on New Media. Cambridge, Massachusetts London, Englad: The MIT Press, 1999, p.151-170.

[5] COUCHOT, Edmond. O real time nos dispositivos artísticos. In LEÃO, Lucia (org.). Interlab. Trad. Renata Cordeiro. São Paulo: Iluminuras, 2002, p.101-106.

[6] LEVY, Pierre. Cibercultura. Trad. Carlos Ireneu da Costa. São Paulo: Editora 34, 1999.

[7] OLIVEIRA, Ana Claudia M. A. de. Arte e tecnologia, uma nova relação? In DOMINGUES, Diana (org.). A arte no século XXI; A humanização das tecnologias.

São Paulo: Unesp, 1997, p.216-225.

[8] MACHADO, Arlindo. A máquina e imaginário. São Paulo: Edusp, 2.ed., 1996.