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:

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

From Hour to Hour

Date: 2013 (original version 2011)
Posted by: groeneg
Cast: None
Credits: Double G Productions
Duration: 0.57

‘It is ten o’clock:
Thus we may see,’ quoth he, ‘how the world wags:
‘Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more ’twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.’

Jacques’ words on time and mortality are the inspiration for this roughly executed clay animation, which takes the idea that we rot and rot literally with a comically horrific ending. Part of the joke is the nature of stop-animation itself, which speeds up and collapses time into whatever space it eants to, so that a young man may become a corpse in seconds.

The anonymous filmmaker has some pedigree in this field, since as GroeneG he was responsible for 2007’s Hamlet’s Egg, one of the first videos to be posted on BardBox. The animation technique has not moved on greatly in those five years, but the fondness for using Shakespeare as black humour remains.

Originally posted on Vimeo as Hour to Hour in 2011, then reposted on YouTube as From Hour to Hour in 2013.

YouTube page

Google+: Tom

Date: 2012
Posted by: GoogleChannelUK
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch (voice)
Credits: Not given
Duration: 1.31

Google in the UK has produced this sweetly sentimental advertisement for the Google+ social network, which uses Jacques’ ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech for As You Like It. We see Tom as infant (actually it’s Tom’s son William – the plotting is a bit muddled), schoolboy (William again), lover (we’re back to Tom), soldier, justice and ‘lean and slippered pantaloon’, and … and then nothing. For Google has given us just the six ages of man. Now is this because Google would rather not show us Tom “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything”? Or is some subtle insinuation being made that in the virtual world there is no such thing as death or its approach? Is this bowdlerisation or simply variation?

YouTube page

‘World’s-a-stage’ Shakespeare cycles

Date: 2010
Posted by: boytoynorth
Cast: Brian McCugan
Credits: Created by Brian McCugan. Music courtesy of
Duration: 2.11

With the addition of BardBox’s second cycling video (see the exceptional Cymbeline for the first) I think we have the makings of genre. Here Canadian actor Brian McCugan sticks a video camera to the front of his bicycle and sets off along the seawall at Vancouver, reciting the ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from As You Like It. This is the sort of Shakespearean production that YouTube is there to encourage. It could not have been imagined before the time when cheap, portable video cameras became available to all (and both picture and sound quality here are lousy), before broadband, before video hosting sites, all of which have encouraged the sharing of the personal and the compulsion to self-expression. It’s an actorly performance – and a good enough one at that – whose reasons for existence are a seizing of the moment, and a capturing in video form the kind the rumination that cycling along a seawall might very well encourage. Now could we have a remake, with a slightly better camera?

YouTube page
Brian McCugan’s personal site

7 Ages

Act I – Intro/The Infant

Date: 2008
Posted by: SuperMegaActionPlus
Credits: Produced by Andrew Smaje, handmade by SuperMegaActionPlus
Cast: none
Duration: 2.25

This is the first of a series of seven trailers produced for the 2008 Unplugged Shakespeare festival at the Theatre Royal Bath, each dedicated to one of the ‘seven ages’ from Jacques’ speech in As You Like It. The video production company behind the series describes its work thus:

Our brief was to create a silent short film for each of the seven ages of man from the ‘All the world’s a stage…’ speech in ‘As You Like It’. Each film had to appeal to its featured age group, and work as both a silent film (to be shown in shop windows around Bath during the festival) and with audio for a showing at our local independent cinema, the Little Theatre Cinema, Bath.

The videos are dynamic amalgams of animation, cut-out images, archive film, performance, sounds and wry references to Shakespeare’s words, giving them a stylish contemporary twist. They are well worth checking in their widescreen through the direct YouTube links below (or see the higher resolution copies, hosted by Vimeo, available on the SuperMegaActionPlus site – they look terrific full screen). The opening video (above) introduces the ‘seven ages’ theme before a brief but imaginative take on infancy as the first age. Each ‘age’ in the series is then expressed in a different visual style, from computer games (The Schoolboy) to rap (The Soldier) to total silence (The Pantaloon). Marvellous stuff, which just goes to show how much of an inspiration Shakespeare is to the creative filmmaker. Be sure to catch them all.

Act I: Intro/The Infant (2.25 mins)
Act II: The Schoolboy (2.48 mins)
Act III: The Lover (6.38 mins)
Act IV: A Soldier (3.35 mins)
Act V: The Justice (2.57 mins)
Act VI: The Pantaloon (6.02 mins)
Act VII: Sans (4.37 mins)
SuperMegaActionPlus site
SuperMegaActionPlus’s Vimeo pages


Date: 2006
Posted by: RobbieDingo
Credits: Story, animation, props, camera work and original music by Rob Wright, a.k.a. Robbie Dingo
Cast: Second Life animated figures
Duration: 3.27

This unusual and rather haunting animation was made as a Machinima movie (filmmaking within real-time, 3D virtual environments) in Second Life. It takes as its inspiration the ‘All’s the world’s a stage’ speech from As You Like It (Act 2 Scene 7), and calls itself Stage because of its stage-like setting, its reflection on the stages of life, and ‘The Seven Ages of Man’. Apart from the opening quotation and the expressed intentions of the author (whose Second Life identity is ‘Robbie Dingo’) there is little that connects the film with Shakespeare’s work, but inspiration is as important as interpretation to BardBox. A succession of fathers and sons play a circular tune on a piano, the boys growing up to be men and accompanied by their sons in their turn. All the while a toy train circles round and round endlessly. The figures may verge on the creepy, but the film has something.

Stage was Winner of the Best Film award at the June 2006 Alt-Zoom festival.

YouTube page
Internet Archive page
My Digital Double, Robbie Dingo’s blog

The Ages of Man

Date: 2007
Posted by: jrsherrard
Credits: Filmed by Jean Sherrard
Cast: 5th and 6th graders
Duration: 1.46

More from the Hillside Student Community (see the American school’s spirited group rendition of “To be or not to be“, posted earlier), as individually and collectively the fifth and sixth graders recite the ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7. A vigorous spirit and attention to meaning is evident in each shot of the children in an appropriate woodland setting.

YouTube page