Friday, May 09, 2003

Typing Monkeys Don't Write Shakespeare

This just in from the AP:

Researchers at Plymouth University in England reported this week that primates left alone with a computer attacked the machine and failed to produce a single word.

"They pressed a lot of S's," researcher Mike Phillips said Friday. "Obviously, English isn't their first language."

A group of faculty and students in the university's media program left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. Then, they waited.

At first, said Phillips, "the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it.

"Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard," added Phillips, who runs the university's Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies.

Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in — not quite literature.

Phillips said the project — funded by England's Arts Council rather than by scientific bodies — was intended more as performance art than scientific experiment.
Some performance. I actually visited the sponsoring group's website. I'm not sure who's more imbecilic, the monkeys, or the organizers. There are brilliant artists who have something profound to show, but England's Arts Council chooses to support this monkey business. Brilliant.

For a wonderful antidote, visit here, and see why they call themselves the "Art Renewal Center."

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