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The Hedgehog's Dilemma

Nathan Harper


The Hedgehog's Dilemma is an interactive livestream exploring human identity and connections through the Sonic the Hedgehog OC (original character) internet subculture. OCs are often built to resemble their authors in name and features, but embody an unrestricted, carefully designed self possible only through this digital self-expression. By asking visitors to search their own name, Harper takes advantage of our instinct to build connections based on small similarities. Being confronted with a hedgehog persona sharing their name encourages an unexpected connection between the visitor and the originator of these avatars: a shared identification in an anonymous digital universe. It is a glimpse into a personalized mirror shipped through cyberspace to the wrong address.

In its title, The Hedgehog's Dilemma recalls the metaphor of hedgehogs being unable to gather closely at risk of hurting each other with their sharp spines, bringing our pandemic-induced isolation into sharp focus while tying into the inherent difficulty of forming close relationships. Though most may desire these relationships internally, external projections are fortresses of walls, dead-ends, and spikes, leaving us stuck at the threshold of understanding one another.

How to participate

To participate in The Hedgehog's Dilemma:

First, Google image search "[YOUR NAME] + the Hedgehog".
Next, save and add one of the image results to the open-source Google Drive folder.
It will be printed shortly and added to the wall.
Tune into the ongoing Twitch stream to see your hedgehog!

Artist Bio

Nathan Harper is an interdisciplinary artist and educator from Florence, Alabama. He is a graduate candidate at the University of North Texas pursuing his MFA in New Media. His work has recently been included in international virtual exhibitions with the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and The Barcú Virtual Art Fair in Columbia. His interests include semiotics, the egregore, and the metaphysical explored through digital technologies and identities.

IG: @nathan_harper_art