Shakespeare Machine

remixing the works of Shakespeare

Date: Fall 2012
For: The Public Theater
Collaborators: Ben Rubin, Mark Hansen
Role: custom software design

Shakespeare Machine is a permanent artwork in the lobby of the Public Theater in New York City. It was commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent-for-Art program and the Public Theater. It opened to the public in October, 2012. Shakespeare Machine was awarded the 2013 Excellence in Design Award by the Public Design Commission of the City of New York.

The Shakespeare Machine remixes the text from 37 of Shakespeare’s plays. Custom software developed by OCR parses the text and finds similar phrases from all different plays. Each of the the 37 blades in the chandelier contains an entire play, and the software cycles through different modes that selects similar types of phrases, based on grammatical, rhythmic or semantic attributes.