For over 25 years, August Highland wrote in a variety of traditional forms. He gradually became interested in pursuing a new direction and, in the early 90's, began exploring the appropriation of text and rearranging text into non-linear sequences. Highland went on to originate a genre of literature called "Hyper-Literary Fiction," which became successively more and more visually oriented.
When he initially made the leap from the page to the canvas, his work was only made for viewing on a screen. Then, Highland developed the proprietary techniques that today enable him to produce his work at a large scale. Without the use of commercial graphic software, Highland creates his compositions by giving instructions to all elements, such as typefaces, font color and size, text sources, distribution of text, and overall dimension. This has resulted in his creating a media genre that he calls "Literary Extremism."
Every element of his work is entirely comprised of text. From a distance, the text in Highland's work creates a visual composition. Up close, words and phrases in his work are revealed and can be read by the viewer. This is what makes his work not just an art piece or a work of literature. It combines and transcends the two.
Highland's first visual works were used text from various sources such as the words people used in a Google search, the transcripts of political campaign speeches, the discussions on online forums, and other sources of text. After his 2006 show at Poet's House in New York, he focused his interest on works of classical literature. The first project he completed was titled "The Paradise Effect." Created in 2008, the collection celebrated the 400th birthday of John Milton by incorporating the text from his epic poem, "Paradise Lost." Since then, August Highland has celebrated the birthdays and commemorated the deaths of over 50 classic writers by creating collections of work with text from their novels and/or poetry.
By "reworking" the text of classic authors, Highland is responding to great works of literature with a contemporary sensibility. This enables him to revive their meaning and relevance for both the modern reader and art connoisseur.