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:
TheLionHaired (handsome title, but his real name’s Derek) hates Shakespeare. He hates Chaucer too, but particularly he hates Shakespeare. Why do the characters take so long to say so little? Just look at Hamlet. Why to the characters do dumb stuff which just isn’t plausible, much like characters in horror movies? Romeo and Juliet were just idiots. All they had to do was run away to Mantua. And in Macbeth, what was the point of murdering Banquo? And Brutus killing Julius Caesar, that’s just wrong. Titus is OK, but he just held back too much. “If Lavinia had been my daughter – and what happened to her – I would have been a little more active”. In general he hates Shakespeare. Or maybe it’s just the plays. Because he quite likes the poetry…
Sorry, Derek, but I don’t believe you. This diatribe shows too much eloquence, just a little too much knowledge of the plays. I can hardly think of a better example of a video to stimulate a class discussion than what is on display here. I think Shakespeare’s has got to you more than you may know, as yet.
Well, to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. I know Act 1 of Julius Caesar, of which this is an interpretation, and I recognise the characters and sort of where the action is going on, but I am too old to know what on earth is being said.
But so what? This is a lively English school project by a bunch of Philippine schoolgirls (Payatas is a slum site outside Manila), who have taken the play and presented it as a silent film with faux scratches, intertitles (Brutus: “I just feel emotional today. I have so many problems”) and cheap organ music. The action in between is just goofing around – what counts is the teenspeak dialogue with assorted in-jokes and in-slang. We’re promised anti-Caesar spraypainting tags, but then the video ends with a ‘to be continued…’ Shame. Now they’ve moved on to higher classes, and we’ll probably never know what might have happened.
Shame about the spelling mistake in the on-screen title (and the YouTube page spells ‘monologue’ wrong as well), but this is an interesting take on Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ speech simply by virtue of its background. Filmed at night outside a house, Antony’s words are accompanied by the incessant burr of crickets and passing traffic. The rendition is fine, the camera work uncertain (zooming in and out without much purpose) but it’s the strangeness that matters. Simpson (a drama student at Syracuse University) does not address the camera but an invisible crowd all about him – maybe the indifferent crickets and cars of American suburbia.
Date: 2005 Posted by: ElMatadore88 Credits: Created by Edward Cast: Andrew Dexter, Casey Inouye, Edward Fan, Maki Hattori, Nolan Chung
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.