project: hamlet.3.1
author: n3krozoft mord
released: 3/2003
category: software

available from the Runme.org software art repository
URL: runme.org/project/+hamlet/

featured in the catalog of the read_me festival 2004:
Software Art & Cultures Edition 2004
ed. Olga Goriunova and Alexei Shulgin
University of Aarhus, Denmark, 2004
ISBN 87-98844-404-0



:: HAMLET.3.1 – review (by Annina Rüst)
Hamlet.3.1 by n3krozoft mord is a very simple and direct software art project for computers running the Apple Macintosh operating system (9 and earlier). No instructive-descriptive text is needed to run HAMLET.3.1. Because the software project’s main strenght is directness, the following will spoil it for those who have not yet downloaded and doubleclicked HAMLET.3.1:
Stereotypical, synthetic voices named “Fred”, “Victoria”, “Bruce”, and “Agnes” are giving a comically unemotional rendition of act 3 scene 1 of Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet”. This ensemble of text-to-speech voices has been a feature of the Apple Macintosh operating system from very early on. “AppleScript Help” suggests that the over 20 different voices can be used in scripts to perform roles like reporting the outcome of actions, reading the content of database fields and “other information”.
The script code looks as if the author(s) made an effort to make the reading even more unemphatically uniform, adding an [[emph -]] tag to every line. Scene 1 of act 3 is the morbid scene where Hamlet is debating taking his own or someone else’s life in the overquoted “to be or not to be” monologue. Victoria, Bruce and Agnes read these anticipated lines in predictable monotony – exposing the humanizing at work in text-to-speech software and in theatre alike.
by Annina Rüst, posted 14 Nov 2004, URL: runme.org/feature/read/+hamlet/+97/

:: HAMLET.3.1 – review (by Joshua Wilt)
I discovered this work on runme.org, under the category of ‘Conceptual Software.’ The artist, n3krozoft mord, defines this piece as: extremely simple apple-skript [for macos9 or osX – osX not tested] – exploiting the text-to-speech funktion of the mac.
The software, on my computer opened in Classic mode and began reading Act III, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. (That’s the one with Hamlet’s famous speech to Ophelia, “To be or not to be…”) It is performed by seven different voices, each could be said to have its own personality. But just how much personality can a computer voice have, especially when it’s reading some of the most recognizable lines of English literature?
I believe the artist is trying to recontextualize the scene from Hamlet, and in doing so comment on a computer’s lack of ability to convey human emotions. It’s a bit of a Turing test, if you will. One could never be convinced that the voices reading Hamlet in this work belong to human beings. Is it impossible to create a lifelike facsimile of the human ability to vocalize emotion? It may not be impossible, and if it is not, it will be interesting to see the product of such a flawless facade. Plays written for characters played solely by computers… Maybe.
by Joshua Wilt, posted 17 Feb 2004, URL: www.yproductions.com/teach/digital_art/blog/000219.html