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Superheroes of Humanities


Featured image: August Highland collaborates with William Shakespeare with the start of an going series of sonnets.


By now most net artists, curators, net art viewers & related academics are aware of the perpetual antics of August Highland and his networked literary identities. They would also be aware of the non-stop emails that are poured into various lists like liquidized data streams. Highland’s textural, multi-presences bewilder some and subject others in peer positions to envy such fluid dedication.

It’s as though August is a machine, a ghost on automatic drive, asserting an existential punk spirit whilst going through the motions of spewing out into the void the essence of language as pure medium, exploiting the Internet as a conduit, a space that needs filling. A quantum-digital type of universality or inclusiveness occurs suggesting that our minds are part of a greater sum. For we easily connect to the Internet now and do quite comfortably become part of the matrix.

Broadcast me, scrambled clean
Or free me from this flesh
Let the armchair cannibals take their fill
In every cell across wilderness
We’ll trip such a strangled tango
We’ll waltz a wonderland affair
Let’s run to meet the tide tomorrow
Leave all emotion dying there
In the star cold beyond all of your dreams
(I want to be a machine, Ultravox 1977)

We are psychologically and emotionally entwined, wrapped in a never ending abyss of The Body Electric. For the virtual electronic waves, networks that August is currently filling are not far from the patterns of our own physical brains. And as time goes by we might begin injecting his work into our craniums, stimulating our neurons much like smart drugs or medication, as we become a multitude of consciousnesses connected via digital intersections.

One of August’s more recent explorative and playful maneuvers is a sideways step from his more usual all out Internet infiltrations. This time he collaborates with William Shakespeare. Sonnets by the Superheroes of Humanities is a net-based, single page object featuring the voice of the late Sir John Gielgud, which is the beginning of an ongoing project to do all of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

When entering the page you are faced with a presentation of cut up texts in five sections from the sonnet. In the centre lies the original text unfettered by the artist for viewers to see before it is garbled. The rest of the four sections are various differentiations, digressing into visual text data. Java scripted words cut up each possessing their own mannerism, function and movement, one section retypes, another shakes. Also one can interact by mixing poems or words into sections or the palettes.

It is worth venturing to see some of the other identities of August Highland to understand where he is coming from:

Highland’s work here may on one level be a parody of the entire concept of the “art movement;” inasmuch as the postmodern has been characterized as “the end of movements” and an art era beyond manifestos; Highland, in a bold conceptual move, has birthed an art movement, complete with varied practitioners, from just himself.” -Lewis Look. Multiplicity: Notes for/on August Highland. October 15, 2002.