Love’s Labour’s Lost

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

Loves Labours Lost

Date: 2007
Posted by: luizmarcelota
Credits: Filmed by Cabeça
Duration: 1.30

If only, they sigh, we could see how Shakespeare’s plays were performed in their time? How wonderful it would be if there had been some form of Elizabethan camcorder which could have recorded the live performance, for the delight of future generations.

Were such an impossible film to turn up, it might look just a little like this. Filmed by a Brazilian tourist at London’s Globe Theatre in September 2007, it shows Dominic Dromgoole’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost filmed from the back of the theatre, through the heads of the people in front. The camera shakes a bit, drifts around, we’re too far away to see who is performing or what they are saying – and there’s only ninety seconds of it anyway.

But if this were all that we had, what treasures we could still derive from it. We would see staging, costuming, scenery, the relation of performer to audience, the behaviour and dress of that audience, even learn from the snatches of conversation heard about such pressing mundanities as cushions to sit on. And how we would struggle to identify the performers and to derive some sense of them from these long-shot glimpses. Indeed, what debates there would be as to what play we were in fact watching, had our Elizabethan filmmaker neglected to include such information. It would keep academic conferences going for years. As it is, it’s a typical short record of a stage performance, of which many exist on YouTube from the Globe alone.

YouTube page

情非得已 Qing Fei De Yi MV based on Love Labour’s Lost

Date: 2005
Posted by: objredline
Credits: Directed and edited by Long Lin and David Wu
Cast: Annie Brown, Long Lin, David Wu
Duration: 7.04

A curious cross-cultural mix, a karaoke Shakespeare of sorts. It is a mixture of music video and modern language version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, inspired by the pop song ‘Qing Fei De Yi’ by Taiwanese singer/songwriter Harlem Yu. The cast is Chinese-American, and the song which is performed for most of the video is their own rough (and painfully flat) rendition of Harlem Yu’s original. We are told that play and song were so similar in theme that it seemed logical to blend the two together. Produced as a high school literature project from Grindle Gifted Language Arts, Shakespeare Unit, 6th period.

YouTube page