Shy nag (a code opera): Act II published as an e-Chapbook by Cordite Poetry Review (February 2016)

Shy nag #2 (Bergen, Norway, 7 August 2015)

Shy nag performance 2/5/15, Newark, NJ

Shy nag performance 5 February 2015 ( video screen capture ]


In 2012 Sonny Rae Tempest & Chris Funkhouser were part of a group “teaching” an UnderAcademy College course titled TOO MANY COOKS.

At this time, Tempest & Funkhouser first collaborated on an experimental verbal artwork, “Exit Ducky”, published (with commentary) in Cordite. Text is derived by processing the code of a .jpg with Google Translate & Microsoft Word.

A second collaboration, using similar and expanded methods, has become a “code opera” named Shy nag, in which a libretto, a musical score, and “scenery” are produced with the hexadecimal code of the same .jpg image:

The code we based everything on
could be interpreted in many ways. To make the libretto, we opened an image file as a Chinese character-encoded text file, then translated the resultant text into English, which was subsequently processed and filtered through Word spell-check. Since the code is lengthy, the output was large. A prismatic text, comprised of choices made among thousands of possible options, results.

During its decomposition and transcreation, characters, settings, and instructions emerged, which is how it became a libretto.


A range of sounds were crafted, and refined into something quirky and appropriate for the production/performance [see for an example].

Morphing color fields, projected behind actors and perhaps onto a disco ball swirling throughout the room, with the code again at its roots, completes the production.


Chris Funkhouser's 3/12/15 lecture at Brown discusses the production and process with more detail.


Students in the NJIT/Rutgers-Newark Theatre Department staged Shy nag on February 5, 2015, in Bradley Hall, Rutgers-Newark.


NJIT Newsroom article


Shy nag promotional video


Shy nag performance documentation

Play bill 05 February 2015 (mouse-over)


Published reviews:

The Vector, 10 February 2015 | The Observer, 10 February 2015



Shy nag in Bergen, Norway (Electronic Literature Festival), August 2015


under Louis Wells, Director, Shy nag was staged a second time, at the United Sardine Factory in Bergen, Norway. The cast: Maria Aladren, Sandy Baldwin, Kathi Inman Berens, Natalia Fedorova, Aleatory Funkhouser, Chris Funkhouser, Fluorish Klink, Jeneen Naji, Álvaro Seiça, Louis Wells.

video documentation (by Jaad Asante)

Pre-conference article with reference to Shy nag by Judy Malloy

ELO 2015 festival proceedings with section on Shy nag (via Dropbox)