Spacex Gallery, 1 May – 22 June 2002
Generator: curated by Spacex & STAR, with support from the Institute of Digital Art & Technology and the Arts Council of England (Collaborative Arts Unit). Spacex Gallery, 1 May – 22 June 2002, and touring in the UK. Generator will present a series of ‘self-generating’ projects, incorporating digital media, instruction and participation pieces, drawing machines, experimental literature, and music technologies. All work will be produced ‘live’, in real-time, with some elements continuing indefinitely.
The exhibition can also be described as ‘generative’ in that it will develop and expand over time, by acting as a point of connection for different generative practices across disciplines, pointing to the relationship of visual arts to other media – especially sound works, performance, and issues relating to chaos theory and complexity, neural networks and artificial life.
STAR & Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys from Paignton Zoo
As part of the development of the Vivaria project, Generator hosted a troop of Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys from Paignton Zoo to test Infinite Monkey Theorem. The idea that an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters for infinity could eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare was enacted in a monkey cage in Paignton Zoo…
Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare were produced in response to the familiar idea that if an infinite number of monkeys are given typewriters for an infinite amount of time, they will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. It was translated to a computer environment, producing live updates published on the web, alongside a webcam view of the
production scene showing the creative activity in its fuller context. The text was first produced in Paignton Zoo by a group of Sulawesi Macaque monkeys as their contribution to the exhibition GENERATOR (1 May – 22 June 2002, Spacex Gallery), curated
by SPACEX & STAR, and supported by the National Touring Programme of the Arts Council of England and the Institute of Digital Art & Technology. The project forms part of a research stage of [VIVARIA.NET] also funded by the Arts Council of England. Thanks to the monkeys, keepers and staff at Paignton Zoo for their help in the production of this work.
Real monkeys: In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys. They left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes crested macaques in Paignton Zoo in Devon in England for a month, with a radio link to broadcast the results on a website. Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it. Mike Phillips, director of the university’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technology (i-DAT), said that the artist-funded project was primarily performance art, and they had learned “an awful lot” from it. He concluded that monkeys “are not random generators. They’re more complex than that. … They were quite interested in the screen, and they saw that when they typed a letter, something happened. There was a level of intention there.”
NOTES TOWARDS THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE BY: ELMO, GUM, HEATHER, HOLLY, MISTLETOE & ROWAN SULAWESI CRESTED MACAQUES (MACACANIGRA) FROM PAIGNTON ZOO ENVIRONMENTAL PARK (UK).