Infinite Monkey Syndrome

Date: 2012
Posted by: James R. Ford
Cast: Not given
Credits: Produced by James R. Ford
Duration: 1.30

A few months ago it was reported that US programmer Jesse Anderson had set up a virtual set of some millions of monkeys (using Hadoop), all of them tying at random on virtual typewriters, and had managed produce something that was 99.99% Shakespeare – the first text to be achieved in this way being ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. Anderson had cut corners however, because every time the random typing came up with words that roughly matched something from the Shakespeare canon then they would be retained, if not then discarded. With this and other constraints, Anderson could achieve his goal. The purely random production of Shakespeare by an infinite number of monkeys remains something for the philosophers and theoretical mathematicians.

Or for a videomaker. This droll piece, made by British artist James R. Ford, is an extract from a 9 minutes 8 second loop (therefore designed in principle to run forever). It shows us a woman in a monkey suit, typing Shakespeare, as the tags to the video tell us, because otherwise we would not know (a photograph of the typewriter on the artist’s website indicates that only gibberish has been produced – so far). Is is a Shakespeare video? I say that it is – and so it is (and just to make the point this post has been tagged with all of the plays and poems). A video to watch, infinitely.

Jesse Anderson explains more about his project on this video:

Links:
Vimeo page
BBC online news item on Jesse Anderson’s project
Jesse Anderson’s Million Monkeys Project
James R. Ford’s personal website

“Will”

Date: 2011
Posted by: Will Goss
Cast: Will Goss
Credits: Directed by Will Goss, painting by Dexter Dalwood, music by Nirvana
Duration: 2.32

This is a striking video interpretation of Shakespeare’s sonnet no. 135, “Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will” i.e. the one with all the ‘will’ puns. The punning is all the more since the filmmaker is another Will, Will Goss, who describes himself as “an experimental videomaker, musician, and writer”, and a graudate student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The video places Will as he recites the sonnet within a series of gaudy paintings of interiors, with a cut-out quality that echoes the collage work of Richard Hamilton. Possibly Shakespeare’s words become a little lost in the visual detail, but this is nevertheless witty, confident and original, correctly bending Shakespeare to the filmmaker’s own design – his will, in fact.

Links:
Vimeo page
Will Goss’ personal website

Sonnet 12

Date: 2006
Posted by: siblmp
Cast: none
Credits: made by Michael Sibley
Duration: 2.27

Such a simple concept. The words of an abbreviated version of Sonnet 12 (“When I do count the clock that tells the time”) have been filmed apparently floating slowly past on the River Avon (it’s hard to tell given the low image resolution, but some trickery is involved since the words then float backwards). The reflected clouds add reflective depth, while the drifting words suggest poetic reverie. It’s just a shame about the naff fretless bass on the music track.

Links:
YouTube page
Michael Sibley’s personal site

William Shakespeare Sonnet 30

Date: 2007
Posted by: ChrisDavey83
Cast: none
Credits: made by Chris Davey
Duration:0.36

A hypnotic interpretation of Sonnet 30 (“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought”), produced by a graphic design student set the task of creating a TV ident for a BBC series (presumably an academic exercise rather than one that was actually used by the BBC). Words drift in and out, laterally and vertically, overlaid upon themselves, artfully playing with fonts and layout, a typographer’s reverie. It’s a satisfying visual reading that demonstrates what power words have alone to catch the eye.

Links:
YouTube page
Chris Davy on MySpace

Shakespeare Sonnet 81

Date: 2008
Posted by: froj2002
Cast: none
Credits: Made by froj2002
Duration: 1.36

How many ways do we have to approaching the task of translating Shakespeare into moving images? Ways without number, I hope. So we introduce a new category to BardBox with Typography, which filmmakers visualise the words themselves. Here we have a creative expression of sonnet 81, “Or I shall live your epitaph to make”. The words are expressed at readable pace through a mixture of hard-made by, text placed over objects (the word ‘epitaph’ on a gravestone) and text created out of natural objects (writing on a steamy mirror). Overlaid by a breathy music track with delicate piano and deft timing (note the lingering of the final word “men”), the result is hynoptic and, yes, poetic. Certainly it’s a method that encourages us literally to see the text, and it’s a means of creating expressive Shakespeare content that anyone with the passion to do so can do cheaply, easily, and without players.

Links:
YouTube page

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116: Eleanor

Date: 2006
Posted by: shakespearecowboy
Credits: Filmed by shakespearecowboy
Cast: Eleanor
Duration: 1.38

This is an example from the 116 Project, in which ‘Shakespeare Cowboy’ (possibly not his real name) films ordinary Americans and gets them to read Shakespeare 116th sonnet (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments”). It’s a delightful idea, and the several videos on his YouTube channel each charm through the freshness of their (mostly) untutored readings and the everyday settings. Here the sweetness of Eleanor’s rendition is enriched by the homely setting, the dog and the cat. As the videos’ creator says, “Shakespeare shows us people and people show us Shakespeare”.

Links:
YouTube page
The 116 Project channel

Shakespeare Paradox

Date: 2005
Posted by: ElMatadore88
Credits: Created by Edward
Cast: Andrew Dexter, Casey Inouye, Edward Fan, Maki Hattori, Nolan Chung
Duration: 10.43

Posted on 18 December 2005, this must be one of the earliest original Shakespeare titles on YouTube. It’s certainly not a conventional production. Describing itself as ‘all the confusing themes of Shakespeare packed into one!’ the video is tagged with such terms as ‘blood’, ‘honor’, ‘ghosts’, ‘romance’ and ‘love’. It starts with Shakespeare’s name written out in what look like cushions, with a piano is played and voices mutter in the background. The images that follow include a church, a paper boat in water having rocks dropped on it (and then the film reversed), birds by a pond, schoolroom actors (mostly Chinese-American) with masks grimacing at the camera, a boy giving birth to a rock, a young woman with a moustache (‘this is what’ll you learn in Shakespeare’), an invisible man, ghostly figures (some of whom dance in the style of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’), blood, fighting, and snatches through out of Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and the sonnets. With snatches of music, messages written on hands, and voices played backgrounds, this is a puzzle, if not quite a paradox. To a degree, it’s just a silly student jape, but it’s a creative jape for all that.

Links
YouTube page