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

Impressionist Does Shakespeare in Celebrity Voices

Date: 2011
Posted by: jimmeskimen
Cast: Jim Meskimen
Credits: None given
Duration: 3.46

A tour de force. American impressionist Jim Meskimen recites Clarence’s speech from Richard III, “O, I have passed a miserable night …” in the manner of assorted celebrities. Helpfully, for those of us not familiar with some of the American famous, or just those looking at this video a few years from now who may wonder who on earth these once celebrated people were, the names of those he is impersonating are given throughout. In order, they are Ricky Gervais, Ron Howard, Richard Burton, Jimmy Stewart, George W. Bush, William Shatner, Arnold Schwarznegger, Woody Allen (surely a natural for playing Clarence), Boris Karloff, George Clooney, Tom Brokaw, Harvey Keitel, Casey Kasem, Garrison Keillor, Craig Ferguson, Droopy Dog, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Johnny Carson, Paul Giamatti, Christopher Walken, Simon Cowell, Jack Nicholson and Barack Obama. And all this to advertise his stage show.

Applied Silliness (Meskimen’s personal site)
YouTube page

Richard III Redux

Date: 2006
Posted by: wishnow
Credits: Created by Jason Wishnow
Duration: 0.17

The reductio ad absurdum of online Shakespeare videos, this is a 17-second interpretation of, approximately, the death of Buckingham from Richard III (Act 4 Scene 1), as performed by a piece of garlic (playing Sheriff) and a lime (Buckingham). It was created iby animator Jason Wishnow as a fleeting comic exercise (‘a late-night test’) before he went on to produce the more ambitious, eight-minute epic Oedipus, likewise performed by a cast of vegetables, but on a far grander scale (the film took two years to produce and was premiered at the Sundance Festival). Oedipus is also available on YouTube, and has its own website.

YouTube page