All’s Well That Ends Well

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:

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

With the Angels: Episode 7 – Ashley Does Helena

Date 2008
Posted by: withtheangels
Credits: Series creator, director and producer Mary Feuer, writer/producer Jonathan Robert Kaplan, writer Werner Trieschmann, Associate producer Jenni Powell. Produced by
Cast: Carly Jones (Ashley Davis)
Duration: 2.16

With the Angels is a web video series produced by and created by Mary Feuer, author of the celebrated Lonelygirl15 web series which convinced many that its confessional tales were true life. With the Angels “tells the fish-out-of-water story of Taffy Simpson (played by Jamie Tisdale), a small-town Arkansas girl swimming in the freak-infested waters of Venice, California”. The plot line for episodes 1-8 is described thus:

Taffy’s roommate Ashley and her best friend Andy throw a party, but Taffy isn’t in a partying mood. Things look better in the morning, though, as Taffy tells us about her new life and her thwarted plan to attend the Sunshine Film Academy. New-agey neighbor Miranda pushes some of Taffy’s buttons, and another neighbor, TV writer Trey Alan Gordon, just might give Ashley’s career a jump start. We learn that sometimes there’s more to friendship than meets the eye as Andy’s feelings for Ashley come into focus.

In episode seven aspiring actress Ashley is seen performing an audition to camera. Her imaginative choice is Helena’s speech from All’s Well That Ends Well, “Then, I confess/Here on my knee, before high heaven and you/That before you, and next unto high heaven/I love your son”. The video follows With the Angels and Mary Feuer’s style in closely imitating web video conventions, so Ashley’s rendition looks a lot like a great many other online Shakespeare auditions, with its intimate playing to the camera (though strictly speaking she is addressing someone positioned just to the side of the camera, which introduces a note of falsity – she’s also kneeling down). At any rate, it’s a fine, heartfelt performance. But why?

YouTube page page
With the Angels site

With the Angels: Episode 8 – Behind the Scenes of Ashley’s Audition

Date 2008
Posted by: withtheangels
Credits: Series creator, director and producer Mary Feuer, writer/producer Jonathan Robert Kaplan, writer Werner Trieschmann, Associate producer Jenni Powell. Produced by
Cast: Jamie Tisdale (Taffy Simpson), Carly Jones (Ashley Davis), René Alvarado (Andy)
Duration: 6.08

This being a web series, there is more to the tale. In the follow-up episode, Taffy (in characteristic mode confessing to the camera) shows us the full tape of the audition, which she had edited and posted for them. Now we see the soap opera, and why Ashley has chosen this particular monologue (“she loves someone who doesn’t love her back”). Her initially flat rendition is turned into something with feeling through Andy’s direction, and of course through her feelings for him. So now you’ll be watching to watch episode 9…

YouTube page