Friday, April 12, 2013

"Data can be a source of creativity and art"


Shakespeare Machine Doc from Ben Rubin on Vimeo.

Last Friday I heard Mark Hansen of the Columbia Journalism School speak at a panel presentation on uses of data - that's a quote from his presentation in the post title. (You should click on his name just to see who funded the institute he heads.)

The Shakespeare Machine has 37 long screens, one for each of Shakespeare's plays. Hansen, a statistician, worked with artist Ben Rubin to develop algorithms that identify different word combinations. There might be a display of "you ___" words - "you gold, you king, you fool" appear on blade after blade. As Artnews describes it:
Each blade contains a whole play. Once a cycle, for about two minutes, the blade streams its play in its entirety. Then selections from its text will appear–terms selected for grammatical, contextual, rhythmic, or semantic attributes, like a verb followed by the word it, a noun phrase containing a part of the human body, and adjective-conjunction-adjective.
The Shakespeare Machine has been installed in the lobby of the Public Theatre in New York. So brush up your Shakespeare - and see if you can figure out which blade matches which play.

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