iLib Shakespeare (the perturbed sonnet project) is a social media mashup that uses the dynamic input of users to continuously rewrite a sonnet of William Shakespeare. The user must phonetically rhyme a word or short phrase, which is added to the database of variations available to other users. For example: “unhappily forsworn” can be rhymed as “so snappily untorn” or “captain” becomes “napkin” etc. These rhymes that are offered by users dynamically replace the original text of the sonnet. Each time the page is loaded, a different selection of user-defined substitutions will be used.
The inspiration for this piece derives from a sound text work developed by Scot Gresham-Lancaster in 1975 with the piece “Met Iceberg a Mess” which is a rhyming of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal” was transformed by rhyming one syllable at a time, so it became “Door floor and heaven tears to know, our door bother not north, up on this stocking, askew ration, deceived in puberty and instigated “screw the opposition” fat doll car related sequel.”
A transposed midi version of Lachrimae, or Seven Tears by John Dowland (1563-1626), can be heard as well, with “perturbations” that increase as the sonnet text becomes more modified. The user can choose to hear Dowland variation playback or just read the “perturbed sonnet”.