When considering what might be the definitive “icon of Brazil”, one must become aware of preconceived ideas about or abstractions regarding what we expect to see or hear when thinking about Brazil as a whole. What would we use to depict Brazil? One may consider that the Portuguese language is iconic because it is the largest Portuguese speaking nation in the world and the only country in South America with Portuguese as its national language. One might consider the Amazon rainforest—the “lungs of the earth” (Gudynas 1993:  171)—as the icon of Brazil. Others might consider the colossal statue Cristo Redentor—Christ the Redeemer—that sits on the summit of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro as the iconic image of Brazil (Siqueira and Siqueira 2011). Samba may be considered the audible icon because it has been accepted by many as the quintessential sound of Brazil or the “national rhythm” (Azoubel 2007: 58). However, some of these might be considered problematic as icons, as they are not exclusive to Brazil. For example, the Amazon rainforest grows not only in Brazil, but also in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela (Murphy, Bilsborrow, and Pichón 1997). Likewise, the Portuguese language is spoken in nine other countries and did not even originate in Brazil. Also, some depictions may not be representative of all Brazilians. For example, although Brazil has the largest population of Roman Catholics in the world (Bruneau 2012), there are many Brazilians who are disenchanted with Catholicism and would not, therefore, identify with a statue of Jesus Christ (Motta 2009). Similarly, although samba is “commonly recognized as the most ‘pure’ representative of Brazilian nationalist expression" (Loveless 2010: 1), others may argue that by virtue of Brazil’s cultural diversity, other dance forms represent the nation to a wide audience of Brazilians.

A unique attribute of Brazil—shared by no other nation—is its flag. The Flag of Brazil is fondly known as A Auriverde—the gold and green—and is an unambiguous and ubiquitous icon used to represent the entire nation of Brazil. Moreover, this icon can often be recognized at a glance. For example, a montage of national flags displaying the thirty-two qualifying nations for the 2018 FIFA World cup facilitates an almost immediate recognition of Brazil as a qualifier, with the icon placed fourth from the left at the top (Benson 2018). Research has shown that users are able to identify countries by means of national flag images much faster and more accurately than with text (Cockburn 2004), and graphics capabilities on computers and mobile devices has made rendering small but quality images from on web pages commonplace. Consequently, web page designers often use national flags as icons when indicating a country. One could, therefore, argue that the Flag of Brazil is probably the most recognizable icon used to represent the nation.

The Flag of Brazil, however, is not just "[g]reat colours, for a great nation, which has led to a great football kit and a great football team (except in 2014) [sic]" (Benson 2018); it is also rich with cultural, political and historical connotations. Keeping all of this in mind, I have attempted to blend ethnology, political symbology, scientific data and musical mapping of each star represented on the flag into a virtual sonified astronomical multimedia work.

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Sonifying the Definitive Brazilian Icon

Angelo Fraietta

University of New South Wales