Tupac- Electronic Literature?

Rapper Tupac Shakur, who has been dead for over 15 years, appeared on stage during a concert at Coachella with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre earlier this week. His body appeared as a hologram, a mere technological feature.  His performance blew the minds of many who watched. Although holograms have been used in the past, Tupac’s appearance was revolutionary because his body had to be completely digitally re-created.  Whereas other holograms just use a current image of a person, the creators of the Tupac hologram created the hologram from scratch.  If you haven’t seen the video yet, you should check it out below. Tupac looks eerily real.


Is this electronic literature? The Electronic Literature Organization defines electronic literature as ” work with an important literary aspect that takes advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.”

Tupac’s poetry and lyrics have been studied in college level English classes as literature for over ten years now.  The University of Washington, the University of California and even Harvard are just several examples of schools that study his writings as a form of literature. Although many may dismiss his lyrics and argue that they are not literature, I believe that it can be argued that Tupac’s work carries an important literary aspect- well, important to these colleges at the very least.

As for the digital aspect, I think that one is easier to argue. Clearly this holographic, realistic image of a rapper that has been dead for many years takes advantage of the capabilities that technology has to offer. Not only was his body re-created, his voice was digitally re-mastered and the real life Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre could interact with the hologram- making it look even MORE realistic.

Tupac’s hologram may be widening the criteria on what can be considered electronic literature. His performance has propelled the music industry into possibly creating more digitalized concerts.  Who knows, in ten more years we may be seeing more electronic performances than real life ones.

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