RND/ To consider or imagine Cyberpunk as (/un)dead. R.I.P. A satirical critique, and study of possible near-future potentials / alternatives.
Right off the bat: questioning the mere notion that Cyberpunk really amounts to anything less than a naked, celebration of Global Techno-Capitalism – much in the same way that GTA was only ever a pseudo-parody of the excess that is Capitalism (not simply ‘Capitalist Excess’.) For Cyberpunks, being violent, dangerous and powerful is nothing but Cool. That being a master of Capitalist Tech (literally) rules. The myth that, through (/being) Tech, one is always anything other than a dumb pawn for The System lies at the undead beating (synthetic, strictly hypercorporate) heart of Cyberpunk. Check out this rich-asshole droid for example:
“It is what it is” and no spells or daydreams will change anything
– Adrian Chmielarz, gamedev, worth $16M
I can only confirm what Adrian Chmielarz wrote. Even if it comes to the situations he describes, my experience shows that there is relative top-down solidarity in game dev, regardless of the position in the company. I must disappoint you. Game dev managers are not proverbial capitalists – exploiters who count their cash while smoking a cigar and occasionally take a look at the oppressed developers (however picturesque this vision may sound).
– Lukasz Szczepankowski, a tech specialist at CD Projekt RED, replying to Chmielarz
Capitalist ideology in general, Zizek maintains, consists precisely in the overvaluing of belief – in the sense of inner subjective attitude – at the expense of the beliefs we exhibit and externalize in our behaviour. So long as we believe (in our hearts) that capitalism is bad, we are free to continue to participate in capitalist exchange. According to Zizek, capitalism in general relies on this structure of disavowal. We believe that money is only a meaningless token of no intrinsic worth, yet we act as if it has a holy value. Moreover, this behaviour precisely depends upon the prior disavowal – we are able to fetishize money in our actions only because we have already taken an ironic distance towards money in our heads.
― Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?
‘Authentic Cyberpunk’ Examples
In which the deadpan yoke is that it seems nothing remotely like any kind of authentic Cyberpunk ever existed – just its ghostly simulacrum, floating strangely and somewhat uselessly inside a hyper specific subset of the global Sci Fi literature ghetto. Bad copies without originals (not that anyone would even care or notice.) Some scenes:
More Dead Cyberpunk
Other (slightly washed out) snapshots of dead Cyberpunk, via Flickr:
Deposit For The Courier
To consider the Post-Cyberpunk cheddar in “Deposit For The Courier”:
In which the animation by Edward Mavskegg represents the theoretical bleeding edge of Post Cyberpunk. In terms of a new potential aesthetic for video designers, some cool features of D.F.T.C include:
- Dat hot steaming ‘#Welgestyle’ (old gamedev memes, don’t worry)
- Haute couture realities, aka ‘Kardashiananity’
- Minimal narrative investment, aka ‘syntactically correct but semantically meaningless’
- High Resolution (with odd textural fetish)
- Uncanny valley style elective surgery, aka ‘Bogdanovization’
- Limited skeletal expression
It seems remarkably similar in its bizarre aesthetic mis-construction as “A New Reckoning” could arguably have been thrown together by the same cool state of ‘#Welgestyle’ videogame development.
The synopsis alone is worth the price of strange admission for its tagline and grammar, syntax and punctuation.
Described as a film about how money would look in the future, what future payment methods would be in practice? This film also uniquely addresses issue of women’s shopping passion in conditions of chase – the animation story line set with in year 2050 revolves around an intriguing chase from one city to another, with the lead character a young woman cyclist employed as courier inadvertently found strange navigation device in desert. Upon closer inspection it was discovered device contained suitcase with money. The plot thickens however unknowingly as the courier realizes two bandits following want money too. Realizing the suitcase is now on the move bandits chases the money cyclist through a small city so they decide to explore this city to find cyclist. Succumbing to a passion for shopping and having found all this money the cyclist became the gang’s new target. According to the story characters live in the world of the future, together with futuristic robots, bots and devices around different places – shops and hotels.
Nice. According to its creators, Deposit For The Courier already has what some Researchers call ‘that special shine’, meaning it will be without background music with accents on mute. Such details make for a very catching film says director Edward, adding the film will be posted online after completion.
This short animated movie is targeted to audiences who like to watch animated short films animated movies short CGI films CGI computer generated art viewers who like Sci Fi genre detective fiction experimental art or art film / independent film.
– Thanks, Edward!
Regarding Cyberpunk 2077
LA has changed lot during my time
The air got dirty and the sex got clean
– Detective Angelo Pappas, Point Break (1991)
In which even the ghosts of the 80s give neon side eye shade – squeaky clean with AAA polish and dead chrome shine; in which design by our dad’s oh so edgy Virtual Golfing Committee results in deep ‘Near Future Retro 80s’ designer copy pasta ultra violence. Screenshots from the WIP gameplay demo. Neon is highly overrated:
It all seems about as edgy as a pink mohawk on some crossfit hipster sporting expensive gold sweatshop trainers that someone mild *cough* ‘real authentic cyberpunks’ could casually neck punch right over a coffee store table as easily as breathing megacity exhaust fumes.
Oh, to watch with dumb horror as young dumb megacorporate fanbois who grew up entirely without Cyberpunk, only hearing about it yesterday FFS (through, eg. fucking LOLmemes) lap that hot shit right up like some damn industry installed F2P skull implant – GG über alles, OK right fine open your art cracks wide in public displays of wilful un-criticality – but what’s so tasty about that, if it’s all based on super generic ideas repeated till zombie undeath – just with incrementally nicer (read: hyper-generic) GFX upgrades and better framerates, aka shrinkwrapped ‘AAAA’ standard-substandards?
In which it has to be ‘good’, simply because it merely ‘exists’ aka Capitalist Realism 101 – hey, how very more actually Cyberpunk! Both cyborg Billy Fanward / ‘retro wave’ music show more interesting ideas than such generic, anti-weird mainstreaming (I mean, good grief at least get Mitch Murder to perform the soundtrack.) Suddenly, nearby public information klaxons blare – “Nothing too much to see here citizens, move on – oh, it seems you’ve already forgotten.”
They will never forget you (’till somebody new comes along)
– New Kid In Town, The Eagles
Hot neon megacity nights, palmtree lifestyle, private beachfront detective for hire – a cheap taste of that badly retrofitted 80s style post noir sleaze.
Good ol’ Willy Gibson on Cyberpunk GTA 2077
First and foremost, to consider that the (now classic) anagram of “William Gibson, Neuromancer”:
“Common As Unreliable Wiring“
– In which Bill doesn’t seem to dig Cyberpunk 2077’s art direction or design ideology – which is rich, considering Bill seems somehow more directly responsible (historically at least) for it’s whole, sad little sub scene.
*Sigh* If only modern synthetic Cyberpunk would knowingly turn their own historical mode of garish cheesy camp up to eleven in order to feel more authentically synthetic and strange.
[..] how many formulaic tales can one wade through in which a self-destructive but sensitive youth protagonist with an (implant / prosthesis / telechtronic talent) that makes the evil (mega-corporation / police state / criminal underworlds) pursue him through (wasted urban landscapes / elite luxury enclaves / eccentric space stations) full of grotesque (haircuts / clothes / self-mutilation / rock music / sexual hobbies / designer drugs / telechtronic gadgets / nasty new weapons / exteriorized hallucinations) representing the (mores / fashions) of modern civilization in terminal decline, ultimately hooks up with rebellious and tough-talking (youth / artificial intelligence / rock cults) who offer the alternative, not of (community / socialism / traditional values / transcendental vision), but of supreme, life-affirming hipness, going with the flow which now flows in the machine, against the spectre of a world-subverting (artificial intelligence / multinational corporate web / evil genius)?
– (From) Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction/ edited by Larry McCaffery/ Duke University Press
Cyberpunk 2077 Is Dead: Pre-Order Hyped Up Whiteboi Edition
Funny how adherence to Cyberpunk – a genre based around future ideas of rebellion and non conformity – so often itself conforms rabidly to cliché
– Gaming personality Yahtzee on Cyberpunk
To cybernetically control one’s breathing and heart rate, and consider the oh-so default (normalized) deadpan Hyper-Capitalist Cyberpunk irony of 2077’s raw videogame pre-order hype (already for purchase on Steam, 10 months before release)
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Featuring the two dimensional action figure V – as in Vanity – the main pasty ideological front n’ centre face of the franchise, obviously mirroring CD Projekt Red’s hardcore marketing demographic: eternally adolescent whiteboyz, howling for pathological, dickgun-toting cybernetic retro 80’s jerkoff power phantasy in a laughably Dark™, neon-tinged urban setting. Why.. that’s like William Gibson on bad Chinese dog fighting steroids, man – that kinda Super Generic shit sure gets yer’ smart-plastic nads pumped for intense, hot nanomachine style action. Super maximum “New Void Amerika” fuck yeah!
In which ‘the real you’ isn’t enough, apparently – astoundingly non-astoundingly ordinary, mostly apathetic or just plain scared, largely powerless, stuck in some shit dead end job (for some, eg. evil Videogamedev Megacorporation) barely making rent; in Cyberpunk 2077’s toothless ray traced nightmare however you can over ever be entirely Hyperreal – instagib whoever you want without consequence, without Mommy telling you off or demanding you come (/evolve!) out of the Gaming Culture basement, living forever through permanently plugging into the undead global System of will-to-domination.
Like a pack of spanner dumb ‘Youtube Influencers’, what’s incredible (and entirely non surprising) is the blind degree to which all relevant protagonists in Cyberpunk 2077 have already completely and uncritically assimilated themselves into the MegaBorg that is modern technological society. Like they were born to be true ‘winners’. (Shame there’s no instantly pluggable, fetishizable biosoft that makes one critically philosophical about one’s Capitalist world andor worldview. “I’d buy that for a dollar!”, etc.)
Just like GTA V, the mere notion that this game or others like it somehow examine ‘just what it means’ to exist in its cardboard thin universe of casual headshots and smart drugs for storefront dummies – that it’s somehow anything more than an empty corporate ‘commentary’ on.. whatever, seems little but a self-serving, bald faced myth. Like so many others, this game’s rapidly looking to be as nuanced as a ‘second hand cyber-orgasm’. Boys and their toys; high tech, and low brow.
– Is it remotely possible to imagine not being one of these strictly fiscal-criminal minded, techno-enhanced, high rollin’, wheeler-dealin’ assholes, yet being forced to live in a shitty world where they run (and ruin) absolutely everything? That’s something no mainstream Cyberpunk story has ever tried dealing with. And yet that’s the place where the vast majority of real, decidedly non-Cyberpunk people live today. Why aren’t their stories being told? Who really gives two cybernetic shits about the Adam ‘I didn’t ask for this’ Jensens of this world? It’s because he’s a cool white winner that’s why (and fuck everyone else, right?)
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In stories like Altered Carbon, you also get to live forever as a Cyberpunk. That sucks for those who can’t afford it. You’re elevated power and position within such a sick society already and inherently makes you a bullying, smug asshole – little more than a soulless walking credit card with legs – and razor arms.. and now you also get to exist as an astoundingly obnoxious dickhead for a thousand Roman Techno-Fascist years as well? Wow, can’t wait for that particular super-banal, doomed future to fully destiny-manifest. GOTY: pre-order today.
Noddin’ heads too hollow, forgotten tomorrow
Swallowing all that shit that’s shallow
Give the baby anything the baby wants
But that’s how them bastards get us up in them caskets
[..] If it ain’t right I don’t give a damn if it’s sellin’
– Public Enemy, Crayola (Atomic Pop Records, 1999)
[Hypocritical B.S disclaimer: if amateur freelance internet theorist Robert What could remotely afford a 3090 fx card, he’d straight up pre-order this shit for some sweet 4K@120hz widescreen raytraced Cyberpunk prosumer vibes.]
P.S In which by now you’re basically sick of hearing the word “Cyberpunk.” Basta! What should be just a bad cheesy joke bursting with G.K.P. genuine kitschy potential still seems a perfectly deadly-serious proposition taken entirely at face value by edge-lordy Captain Tryhards who got permanent irony-gland removal surgery at vat-birth.
- John Scalzi: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is
- Game Luster: Why Are Games Marketed toward Boys?
- CD Project Red Forums: CDPR, Please make Cyberpunk 2077 as offensive as possible
- Cracked: 5 Unbelievable Ways Rich Assholes Get To Cheat Through Life
- Social Darwinism in 20th Century America: Manifest Destiny
Cyberpunk: Lord Edge Approved
In which Real Authentic Cyberpunk™ is always Lord Edge approved. Some approved scenes and poses. (Don’t your balls get really sweaty in all that leather? If you want, I can ‘chip in’ to get you some new cryo-cooled nuts.)
To consider a critical comparison and contrast with Cyberpunk 2077 – how they might each share each other’s conceptual failings:
To imagine conceptual images emerging from media incident in which CD Projekt Red release a particularly 80s megacorporate style boilerplate apology after allegedly™ tweeting / referencing an alt right transphobic dogwhistle.
Cynical Game Patch / Update: Just because you now get to choose your filthy little designer in-game genitals, doesn’t mean you’re not still a dickless corporate weasel. You don’t really give a shit about Trans people – or indeed anything except naked profits.
- Killscreen: The rise of Brazilian transgender cyberpunk
- Daily Dot: Why isn’t cyberpunk better at trans representation?
- Polygon – Colorblind: On The Witcher 3, Rust, and gaming’s race problem
- Eurogamer: Cyberpunk Interview (check out the toxic comments)
- Kotaku: CD Projekt Red explains [/away] controversial Cyberpunk in-game ad featuring trans model)
- Murders of Transgender People in 2020 Surpasses Total for Last Year In Just Seven Months
Cyberpunk 2077 album review by Johnny Silverhand
To consider a near future historical review of new-classic AAA Games Industry tie-in concept album / OST “Cyberpunk 2077” by little virtual Pop Rock star Johnny Silverhand:
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LP now available, faded and long abandoned at the bottom of bargain buckets in all good Mom n’ Pop supermarket stores – “I’m afraid I wouldn’t even buy that for a dollar.”
All information should be free. It is not. Information is power and currency in the virtual world we inhabit. So like, mistrust authority and trust me instead. Cyberpunks are true rebels. Cyberculture is coming in under the radar of ordinary society..
– Johnny Silverhand, eat me
This spoken-word prologue kicks off Johnny Silverhand’s sixth studio LP, Cyberpunk 2077, a 20-track concept album that took Johnny san’s world-famous virtual persona and multi-whatever sound and attempts to bring them into the near future – both in terms of the lyrical subject matter, which focused on ‘futuristic themes’, and in terms of the ‘exciting computer-based’ production methods used to create the music. Released just last week to zero fanfare, a little more than three years after Johnny’s dozen-selling My Breaktaking Life album, Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the more heavily promoted cynical major videogame tie-in events of the summer, with multiple cheap Youtube videos filmed for the single “I Want Room Service!” and a groundbreaking electronic press kit shipped to Trilby tipping fanboi neckbeards on a musty 3.5 inch Amiga floppy disk.
For Silverhand, using computers as a studio tool became something of an obsession after the freak gardening accident that left him with an artificial chrome plated hand in early 1990.
“I wanted to get back to my cyberpunk pop rock roots and DIY,” he explained in an interview following Cyberpunk’s release. “First I read William Gibson’s Neuromancer on a Kindle, then I found out a Virtual Studio where I could bring a computer into my home and record my band with it.. it was like being part of the Avant Garage once again.”
It seems that DIY vibe has not only helped revitalize Silverhand’s songwriting spirits, it’s given him the chance to – in his view at least – offer a rebuttal to the fads of the early so called Near Future Retro 80s. “I throw off the shackles of the immediate future to return to the sexy present” he explained to Synthetic Entertainment Daily.
”I was looking for a way to break the stalemate The Industry has gotten into. This is in a way my sort of answer to retro 90s mainstream pop rock. I know there’s a way of using this modern technology stuff to bring a lot of that hot sensual cybernetic rawness back.”
He’s even clearer about his urge to Remain Relevant when speaking with Tha New York Underground, saying, “It’s like it’s 1983 all over again. I better wake up and be into it. I’m sitting here, a 1987 style Cyberpunk watching Billy Idol on the MTV talk about punk, watching my mother talk about punk on my cool videophone watch, and this is my reply. It’s just my own way of saying, ‘Wooo! What about that, you crazy kidz? Hey, I’m totally Lollapalooza too! I’m The Cyber Punk; you guys are still all total punks!”
Unfortunately for Silverhand, all this overbearing enthusiasm – not to mention a heavy promotional campaign that included a video for “I Want Room Service!” directed by a distant cousin of effects guru Stan Winston – doesn’t quite seem to translate to the music, which so far inspires only widespread indifference and derision. In fact, poor Johnny has recently found himself beset by slow, saddened head shaking from all sides; first from members of the nascent Intertubes community, who feel like Silverhand is trying to co-opt ‘their’ culture for AAA Industry gain (oh the ironies), then by pop rock pundits who accuse him of writing sub-par material for the album – and finally by Fans (collectively known as Lord Edge) who nowadays more or less completely ignore anything remotely to do with Cyberpunk, simply because it’s all too corny to be associated with.
Desperate to divorce himself from Johnnyhand’s Cyberpunk Try-Hardness, William Gibson, whose generally crap 1984 supermarket checkout novel Neuromancer helped inspire Silverhand’s Cyberpunk journey, hinted at the cultural disconnect that probably doomed the project from the beginning. “I just don’t quite get what he’s on,” Gibson admitted when asked about the album. “I don’t er, quite see the connection.” This is interesting, considering that Gibson was recently interviewed for TV on the set for Straight-To-Torrent Cyberpunk Classic “Johnny Mnemonic” and was basically short stroking over how incredibly amazing it all was – how His Private Cyberpunk Dreams were being realised realtime before his eyes by can’t-direct-traffic director Robert Longo.
A London journalist said that, when Johnny did his Cyberpunk press junket over there, he made it a condition of getting an interview with him that every journalist had to have read Neuromancer. Anyway, turns out they all did (and only ever thought it was nothing special) but when they met with Silverhand, the first thing that became readily apparent was that Johnny hadn’t read it. So they called him on it in a roundabout way, and he said he didn’t need to – he just absorbed it through Techno Osmosis.
While “I Want Room Service” was a minor hit in one bar in Thailand by the docks, cresting at the upper reaches of their Rock chart hanging in the toilet, the album barely cracked the Top 500, falling off in less than two months and bringing a quick, undignified end to Silverhand’s promotion plans for the record – which seems a cheap laugh riot, because whatever the music’s merits, Silverhand’s genuine plastic excitement for ‘cyberpunk technology’ points the way toward a lot of the recording, production, and promotion methods that will no doubt come to dominate the AAA Games Industry in the decades to follow.
“We’re going to be lit by these stream-of-unconsciousness images,” Silverhand enthused to The New York Underground when asked about his ideas for a Cyberpunk tour. “It’s going to almost be like, that’s your mind, man. And we’ll have four people swarming the gig with camcorders, which then will be put live into this hot blend. And people from the audience can bring their filmed footage – them with their cyberpunk mother, I don’t know! And then we’ll slap it all up on the big screen. I think you have to start looking to get to ‘the future’ of what Cyberpunk should be like. Like, we’re working hard; we’re pushing ‘the tech’ to the edge of reality and beyond, man.”
Ultimately (that is, from the outset), Cyberpunk seems to be the birthing death knell for Silverhand’s continued irrelevance as an artist; his highest-profile project for the remainder of this week is a cameo appearance in the computer generated Adam Sandler Drew Barrymore rom-com Rectal Colon Cancer Chuckles, and he isn’t scheduled to release another album of new material until the circa-2000s roll around again. But while it would be a stretch to say it doesn’t include any memorable songs, Silverhand can at least take comfort in the knowledge that Cyberpunk 2077 is a public record of embarrassing, narratively clunky failures made ahead of its time.. well, twenty minutes at least.
Indeed consider modern, darkly laughable (/undead) versions of “Cyberpunk” as a total ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (aka “I WANT ROOM SERVICE!”)
That is to say, a quaint yet embarrassing reminder of the fact ‘you are a dickhead’; in the UK, a ‘johnny’ is oldskool Schoolday slang for a condom.
Just garbage. Get that out of here!
– J-Bone, Johnny Mnemonic (Dir. Robert Longo, 1995)
Cyberpunk Is Dead
To consider Cyberpunk as (un)dead; a sub genre of plain bad Sci-Fi badness, mixed with cliché film noir – its brand of fiction presenting Researchers with a future composed of overwhelming technology – universal computer access via ‘Cyberspace designer violence’. Example images of (/Un)dead Cyberpunk:
As a movement of new synthetic 80s, it’s based on spiralling greed and growth of mega corporations so big they’re more powerful than governments – but then the ‘Near Future Now’ is soon to arrive again. Up till that nodal point it seems reasonable enough; afterwards of course Cyberpunk will once again became mere idle speculative fantasy. Most frequently dystopian, it has become heavily calcified in its official aesthetic definition, ie. as mere hyper generic can of something internet Edge Lordy anyone can instantly spray on.
Cyberpunk defines itself as a story of people in an age where they don’t matter any more – where technology has made them obsolete as discrete entities. The constant daily rediscovery of the ‘quantified self’ during this paradigm, shifts and strains; in classic supermarket novel Neuromancer by William Gibson this is evidenced in the overwhelming hopelessness of all the characters – of their constant struggle to survive their own efforts, to glory in self destruction – a whirlwind inferno burning inwards.
Cyberpunk’s use of implanted machines – of merging of humanity with machinery, of Capitalist ‘Big Science’ as so wide an idea that cyberpunks forget to look around. Machine implants are the be all and end all of awfulness of Sci-Fi, the entirely logical (pathological) obsession with technology is to be read as the core strength of the genre. Probably one reason its creators like to declare it undead is because while they’re acutely embarrassed to be remotely associated with it, they are secretly as pleased as pigs in shit.
On Cyberpunk as dystopian meaning and apparent opposite of Utopia; as bad as things are at the beginning they’re always predictably worse by the end for pretty much everybody except of course the titular heroes of said Sci-Fi pulp; Cyberpunk also utterly deliberately fails to address issues of humanity losing to machines of alienation from one’s fellow Researchers, of death, of love, honor, of annihilation of the soul in face of relentless technological progress – Cyberpunk themes are depressing when good and entirely happy when badly written.
In this sub genre, human beings are connected to computers their own reflexes only relevant to their ability to steer around nets in competition with other computer security systems these hackers and crackers are trying to break into. Most of these people have skull jacks – simple plugs wherein really expensive computer cables connect directly to the empty skull; thereby the user becomes an organic component to a global system of computation.
Re: Shadowrun – as exactly Cyberpunk-edgy as Your Dad’s vision of Cyberpunk after watching Lord Of The Fucking Rings:
Cyberpunk was once popularized by the nerdy pink skinned “Mirrorshades” group during the 1980s when the Cold War was going strong; ‘Big Blue’ was on top and the world looked to become the place where everyone worked for mega corporations, which had become feudal in nature. Then the Berlin Wall fell and the genre went with it, but like the wall its ghostly memory-shell remains; mutant children of the 80s witnessed its rampant zombification; all Cyberpunk fiction today is the result of such mainstreamed hackwork – simple undead momentum keeps it going now.
While originally proposed as a cool, post modern mode of science fiction, it took Researchers out of the halls of power culture into the slums and back alleys of ‘twenty minutes into the near future now’ without really leaving it; consider Cyberpunk as ritualized, stultified and deeply undying – vaguely fun while it lasts, people still write such (cheesy) ‘flan fiction’ in the genre but most quietly move on – nobody discusses Cyberpunk at sophisticated wine parties, except when they’re doing lines of DMT-spiced chocolate crack in the designer toilets and want to appear groovy.
Further weakened by its own popularity, there have been efforts to bend the imagery and technologies of the genre to more publishable popular ends – attempts at suicide by the mundane are regularly attempted; at lukewarm nerd parties, annoyingly nasally-voiced author Bruce Sterling still repeatedly refers to his colleague’s very public obituary to the genre on the New York Times editorial page and his reasoning appears sound.
As a genre of rigid rules the best source for such cultural writing / coding is from the “Cyberpunk 2020” source books, which is still a role playing game of significant popularity these days among those with interest in RPG’s who anally read Gibson’s ‘Neuromangler’ over and over again, working from an established set of magical technologies for use in their settings. Watch as they wilfully read non-existent meanings into its timelines which apparently predict all events for the next coming 20 minutes. Obviously things don’t quite happen like that, but modern Cyberpunk flan-fictioners of all shades are careful in their public attempts to constantly realign reality with Cyberpunk prediction (indeed their success in un-living suspended within this very cognitive gap or reality dis-junction marks them out as true synthetic Cyberpunks.)
According to its proponents, Cyberpunk is a word applicable to whatever users wants it to be, which results in an immediate absence of meaning or over abundance of real fake plastic meanings; to define it is to ostracise oneself which makes Cyberpunk more akin to a random bowel movement in a chemical toilet of a crashing plane rather than just some pseudo philosophy or actual setting. Cyberpunk is undead, sure – but it still seems a neat practice area for expansion and expulsion of dodgy ideas.
Cyberpunk Is Dead: An Imaginary Videogame
Where puerile, side-eye rolling 80s style internet manchild edge-lord dick tech power fantasy meets accidental hyper-camp with heavy neon accents.
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To consider paradoxically ‘good type bad’ examples of standard Cyberpunk excess and high end naffness (Note: ‘naff’ is UK slang for not very good; ‘a bit shit’.)
Yet if only such a pose were fully conscious and deliberate – how oddly wonderful / actually more dangerous and strange could expressions of Cyberpunk feel! High tech A.I driven vehicle crashes into the global swimming pool while the deck burns and holographic dancers tease.
All Amerikan Cyberpunk Vision Apocalypse
To consider a collapse in the vision that once (/never) was Cyberpunk:
If they think you’re technical, go crude
– William Gibson, Johnny Mnemonic
Check out this cool wired warrior – with a (literal) camera for an eye, an oldskool CD player for a hand, chest embedded tape reels and an eagle (with a radar on the top of its head) for a companion – all on the merry lit road to hardcore action and high adventure in the great dystopian outdoors, probably.
In which the colour palette evokes Latin American street art murals. Such a collapse / desimulation of the techno-utopian ideal and the resulting sleazy outsider “Bad Art” represents and codifies current unconscious dreams / wishes for the near future of advanced cyberpunk aesthetics – that it evolves into what it more actually was before, just underneath its glazed neon surfaces, ie. gloriously camp, confoundingly ugly, amazingly rough – in short, smeared with delicious synthetic sleaze.
“Cyberpunk Is Dead, Mike” (Pondsmith)
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In which the writer and game developer wears a lurid purple T Shirt featuring the (now classic) “Cyberpunk Is Dead” slogan underneath a sweaty, slightly unfashionable leather jacket with neat metallic album cover fan pins against a typically dystopian megacity backdrop. Old man dreams.
Cyberpunk As The New Zombies
To consider crying for real if you read the fucking word “Cyberpunk” just one more time.
Equation: if generic manga art with glowing ‘Tron’ line accents somehow remotely equals “Cyberpunk,” FFS – then “Cyberpunk” most certainly equals “Zombies.”
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To consider some other garish Cyberpunk shit-show from the (/z_) distant trash aesthetic future. Sweet.
Second (Undead Cyberpunk) Life
To consider unexplained scenes from some long undead and painfully obsolete browser based aesthetic experience.
Max Headroom Is Dead
To consider visual, un-rewound VHS style celebrations of (the UK version!) of “Max Headroom” – cult ‘Near Future Retro 80s’ TV series; virtual reruns broadcast nightly live from Channel Zero.
To consider some nameless near future megacity of living undead default Cyberpunk cliché – with monitor glitches, naturally.
Sterile Corporate-Cyberpunk Storytelling
To consider narrative design in many Corporate-Cyberpunk games the nuanced storytelling equivalent of (say) “Escape From L.A” (John Carpenter, 1996.) This movie rules, BTW.
This, from a medium constantly claiming to be the final word in.. whatever. To imagine possible minor improvements to narrative / storytelling technique in (say) Cyberpunk 2077 – whose gameplay demo sounds designed by people called Meredith Stout with joyless faces of corporate convent nun’s privates – who seem to get their tryhard ideas about futuristic storytelling from listening to LOLtube comments left by Edgelords.
“Why do you sound like a badly written 2D character from an oldskool videogame?”
Consider Cyberpunk as expressed in 2077 as simple vat clone of contemporary global Capitalism – only with wack visible seam lines in faces – but with exact same awful cheesy speech one merely puts up with like anal warts – merely ‘passable’ rather than actually good.
Where such amazingly hammy ‘Life Is Strange’ level dialogue sounds like prerequisite for communication in this universe – as though one can only express meaning via commonly accepted cliche and poorly directed acting – all subtlety / nuance seems positively outlawed. 2077 feels like two fish in tank who don’t know or care that very synthetic air they’re breathing consists of vast network of information / capital – strictly fiscal universe built from groundless ground up for nothing but (brain stunningly big) business.
Scenes from Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay reveal:
Perhaps it’s this wilful ignorance of social context – ie. ideology – that allows or rather forces us to blindly mill around our sterile megacity like utter wankers – call us flatheads – brainless fashion models out of some awful reality-invading reality-tv show, strutting around like remote controlled robotic peacocks on catwalks – str8 trippin’, as Hip Hop says.
Where are the actually ugly people – even the ones with extreme body mods look nicely presented – clean dirt carefully applied to the faces of bad actors.
Just take look at them – it’s like they don’t have a fucking clue, or even look like they remotely feel need to go look for one – oh, except for our two titular, laughably swaggering cold-pressed antiheros, taking total control of their financial destiny for a better tomorrow via the same simple fiscal based force used by inherently evil near future mega corporations.
Simply because they do what ‘corpse’ does on smaller daily scale – dirty schemes, scams, common & garden holdups / data muggings done dirt cheap – this apparently (automatically) gives them the upper moral upper handedness – heck, they’re just another economic hit team in all but name eg. “Murda R Us.”
Note the ironic symbolism: people in 2077 refer to money as ‘eddies’ – in other worlds tiny whirlpools of chaos with violently unpredictable patterns of movement / growth.
Despite the flash dash hype on this Cyberpunk train to nowhere – it’s just more of the same material conditions of monetary virtuality we see today, just even more amped up on bad designer media steroids – like some top floor executive producer saw the gameplay footage and said “It’s fine I guess – just er make it a bit Darker™”. Thing is, modern Cyberpunk seems about as dark and dangerous as a Cybergoth Dance Party – which in fact appears more enjoyable:
Incidentally, ‘Dark’ just means “Oh wow cool! Another futuristic jerkoff scenario where I grow up to be the biggest version of the hateful cyberhole I am already, and get to do whatever the hell I want [/without mommy telling me off].” What a lame bunch of laughably bad White Noise.
To imagine if someone street NPC were to gaze off longingly in middle distance and suddenly state “I miss the memory of trees” or “I hate working. I just want the chance to live” or “My boss is an asshole and I want you to spatterkill him with an orbital lazor” – but no; people here are simply raw human resources – material for coldly calculating (death) dealing machines to process into resellable consumption units.
Small yet meaningful (in terms of relationship) things could drastically improve such a deserted narrative blandscape.
- If one of the main characters sniffed and then rubbed ir nose slightly
- If they blinked as though thinking, indeed if they didn’t just say their lines straight from beginning to end but paused for effect: “-And *you*.. you positively *reek* of Militech”
- If they asked if someone else had a stick of pineapple gum
- If they seemed remotely concerned for their partner in rhyme, acting like big brother or sister figure
- “You really like those spicy noodles, huh.. I can’t eat em they give me raging gas”
- If there was some 24/7 feeling of intense weariness (weltschmerz) resulting from living in city built entirely of Capitalist crime
- About how racism and tribalism is still a serious problem
- If someone robbed an obvious out of towner tourist of their smart phone (say ripping it out of their idiot skull)
- If someone were told to hurry up or move
- If someone were on the street alone homeless and crying, expressing social problems generally
- Long term side effects of constant drug use of all kinds – chemical or informational
- If players are forced to infer indirect information
Indeed relationship / friendship is all we have – not OTT guns or cool jackets that give ‘street cred’ *pfff* – what’s our intimate, inner relationship to others – fellow megacity dwellers – as expressed through careful and deliberate narrative choices / queues – or is it all just unceasing automated ‘dance of biz’ as Gibson states?
Rather than some / yet another effortlessly, narratively cringy [CYBERCRINGE] hyper generic gunporn power fantasy – to consider it’s about relationships to “in-world relationships expressed as things” – responses both emotional / aesthetic – which delicately signal to players about whose skin they currently, actually inhabit.
‘Neuropink’: Post-Cyberpunk Sci Fi Concept
In the exact same way Post Punk was always far more interesting than Punk, perhaps whatever manages to emerge fresh from the dead toxic waste ashes of Cyberpunk will be far more truly vital – genuinely strange.
Uterus Man OP by Lu Yang
First off, a useful ‘Big Science’ term – “The Near Future Retro 80s.”
In which the NFR80s describes a unique present – similar to a dreamy, un- rewound, straight-to-VHS movie version of the future.
The NFR80s – another garish, psychedelic Sci-Fi metaphor that floats on mirrored hyper surfaces and (generally speaking) hurts nobody.
The NFR80s not only seems a dis-location but complex states of minds or mood tones; an energy condenser lens for super shamanic night visions – a dark light mirror reflection on /of memory, in relation to current (unknown / unknowable) trends in unexpected techno-evolutionary change.
In which so called ‘Big Scientists’ not only ask what ‘the 80s’ consist of, but also how such ‘Resarchers’ may fully utilize the 80s in their research projects.
Two classic in-scene phrases exist to describe that special ‘NFR80s’ vibe – which is always on verge of going-to-arrive..
Warning: Reserchers not yet fully intimate with ‘Big Science’ can get sucked unprepared through intense, hyper-visionary dream portals generated by such neo-cultural ‘power core’ DNA.
The first stream of classic in-scene image generating code as follows:
The Near Future Retro 80s: where liquid neon memories flicker, twist and reflect off dirty chrome pools outside random backstreet videogame arcades in old Shinjuku at some eternal 3am – electric dreams, forever adrift in the crying megacity rain..
Second classic phrase andor vision-stream as follows:
Wow – the ‘Near Future Retro 80s’ – awesome; like Tron on Xenomorph-secreted DMT
*slight sob* That’s beautiful, man.
The 80s: Some Background Theory
The NFR80s takes passion and nostalgia from the 80s to create something new and enjoyable for today’s retro loving culture.
In which Researcher Robert What – well known for using retro techniques and expression – connects a not-so-far future with today’s de-generation.
A strong attention to detail allows What to authentically recreate astounding visions of the ‘new future now’ as if they were right out of tomorrow’s 80s era.
His bold meta-digital brush strokes resonate through hot mirrored chrome and dirty neon megacity eloquence.
When modern players or ‘Researchers’ discuss the ‘near future’ they’re specifically talking about a unique vibe, born of an age most ‘flans’ and practitioners weren’t even alive in, ie the 80s – yet instinctively feel they understand or ‘wave with’, deep in their artificial bones.
This is the ‘liquid neon’ vibe of raw emotion; of out-of-control alien technology – a mildly profound sense of ‘love-on-the-run in a time of danger’.
Some think the ‘NFR80s’ are only about, or spring directly from the historical 80s era, but that’s not quite correct.
One of properties of the NFR80s is that it’s forever still yet to occur, broken off and unhinged from local space-time; rather the near future is a cusp between dimensions, unlinked from any specific cultural period.
Indeed, such a moment never quite arrives – rather the NFR80s describe a non specific ‘mood tone’ – an always just on the verge of going-to-be arriving ‘retro 80s style’ or ‘final approach’.
The actual 1980s – a bizarre period of global, All-Amerikan history dominated by haunted video arcades and Mom & Pop video stores – with those bizarro / psychotronic top shelf titles which used to freak you out (like the lonely canyon echo of rolling zaibatsu thunder) – certainly seem the cultural wellspring, but not quite the full implied meaning of ‘NFR80s’.
To Break It Down
– In the 1980s: it was as though nobody fully realized what was happening in or with the 80s – especially aesthetically – so our hyper fragmented, MTV attention span electro-media culture seemed totally ‘sincere’, with arguably little sense of self.
Some explain this by suggesting the special cultural effects of or implied by ‘the 80s’ are best considered as a shadow or wave – cast from an imagined hyper alien future, back into our (often missing sense) of The Present.
– In the 1990s: by the time the 90’s had rolled around, kool kidz had caught on to and started fully realizing that the ’80s aesthetic’ existed and was something in itself to use, played with or inside.
This explains why lot of early 90’s TV programs display a strong 80s vibe – lots of neon afterglow, combined with dry ice fog in their neural DNA – a lo-fi psychic backwash from previous future eras.
– That weird state called ‘The Near Future Now’: what Researchers experience when the scene has a NFR80s vibe – perhaps psychic aftershocks of the 80s coming back out of collective cryogenic storage – out of an all-too hyperreal state, forever ‘tears-in-rain’ type dystopian megacity visions downloading onto our internalized holo-screens.
Now Equals Wow!
– Typical ‘totally 80s’ psychology
Consider the ‘mainstream underground’ movement of the NFR80s as: “Pressing Escape to some private version of the imagined 80s”.
This is despite (or even due to) its highly techno-dystopian ‘neuropink’ nature – players want to escape to personalized ‘gamespacetime’ where the seductive neon lure of midnight dangers of endless vertical megacity streets seems somehow super cool and viable – an imaginative ‘tech noir’ backdrop or extreme psychic augmentation to their (current, imagined) Western Turbo-Capitalist, Alternative Meta Lifestyle.
NFR80s-feeling electro-culture seems highly escapist. One of its main messages: you have to ‘hold on to your dream’ – if you do you will get your rewards – become the online all dancing TV queen of dark paradise skies
How to “Hold on to your dreams”:
– First, play and immerse yourself inside your favourite NFR80s soundtrack andor bio-psychic vibe-aesthetic.
– Then suddenly stand up straight, looking up at a 45 degree angle while bringing your two closed fists together up to your chest while a ‘forever distant megacity horizon look of extreme longing andor confusion passes across your blandly handsome face’ – or flashes across your ‘extremely futuristic looking’, hyper-mirrored wet look bio-quantum superblack smart hyper-combat neuroplastic wraparound data shades (with the thin blue neon outline.)
Seen as a shifting (possibly even sentient) superfluid, the whole Near Future Retro 80s are an experimental construct – a vitally important way for modern ‘Researchers’ to describe, generate and emulate “Big Science” – ie. the truer experiential, experimental feel-sense, ambiance, atmosphere, aura, attitude, impression, quality, semblance, sensation, surface tactility – personal symbolism, implanted near future memory, sociocultural import, psychological impact, etc. of one’s modern hyper-aliveness of full immersion in uniquely techno-psychedelic electro-environments full of sentient machines / freaky ass situations / astounding digital mytho-landscapes of bright information pulse and flow.
In short, consider the NFR80s a sub-cultural method used for approaching unresolved issues of ’80s’ style or associated aesthetic Research phenomena – a mode or lens to think of other poptastic aspects of ‘Big Science’.
NFR80s methodology pseudo-reappropriates glitzy and kitschy, seemingly easily consumable pop as culture back as fecund source of raw explorable / exploitable research immaterials – to be played with / in / otherwise creatively transformed for sustained improvisational research purposes – a chance to allow a fresh understand of particularly ’80s’ modes / moments in evolution of experimental media based self reflexivity – an odd instrument with which to modify digital consciousness on the fly – perhaps organize new modes of critical New Media sensibility, oscillating between hidden / foregrounded ideational operations.
That is, our 80s themed emotions, our 80’s-esque / retro-80s pop culture media and Research culture often emanate and embody certain, uncertain ambient vibes, untied to or from any specific era; such strange and sublime ‘NFR80’ super subjective background emotions or hyper futuristic mood tones often appear at unguarded moments, eg. while researching odd theories, playing or practising ‘Big Science’ – an irreal, delicate superspace freed from ordinary time ever deferred, or that constantly re-manifests in/as our online dreaming.
Indeed, the NFR80s may be seen as a shadowy presence, indirectly indicative of the influence of some impossibly hyper-alien near future of infinite cosmic potential – complete with neon megacity afterglow.
Note: while virtually all modern ‘Researchers’ play or hang around aspects or modes of retro culture – they also express difficulties or reservations regarding full articulation of such intense sets or scenes of highly complex, actual shifted emotional calls / responses of or especially from and inside their alien tech / their technological super spaces – where concepts like The NFR80s often come in to play.
This term (in such a context) means: post categorical – unconfirmed, intangible, undeniable, usually unquestioned, unverified, incorporeal, insubstantial yet fleshy, sublime, animal, human, immaterial, strangely sensual, organic, somatic delicate – even perhaps techno-spiritual.
Common culture tags associated with the NFR80s: #dreamwave, #electropop, #Valerie, #synthwave, #new_retro, #neuropink, #BloodDragon, #drive, #montage, #darkwave, #hyperreal, #virtual, #neon, #video, #glitch, #laz0r, #electro, #recyc, #simulation, #synthy, #vision, #flux.
Theoretical outline for open, Post Cyberpunk concept – v1.0. Note: consider this as virtual code which needs self compiling. In which Neuropink refers to psychedelic / psychological science fiction that can be applied to many different kinds of interactive media.
Consider the general symbolic coordinates of Neuropink; a Post-Cyberpunk ‘Visual (/Reality) Language’ for “Big Scientists “- a fuzzy network of modular co-evolving elements; for example.
- Contrapoints: for the aesthetic
- Lawrence Lek’s Sinofuturism
- Polyhedral Soap
- King City comic
- ‘Reality coding in dark light liquid scanning mirror’
- ‘UHF dimensional test transmissions from/to aether’
- Bio-quantum pulses from missing present colour of anamnesis vision superstrings
- Uncreative W/Riting on tight /planetary schedule
- Imprecise yet deadly velocity of lime green lawn furniture
- Slippery crushing love of giant baby squid by self elective c section of mutant oversoul
- Sleeping meditations under deep data snow drifts on holy mountain
- Close quarters dance routines with ontological night fever
- Black wishing stones from a river in Uapan
- Self andor identity as just another technique: only as postmodern as required
- Making understandable unseen automated dramas of advanced social networking
- Xenomorphic / superflat corrosives, eg. Bake meets The New Aesthetic while skydiving backwards into the near future now
- Artificiality as intelligence; bio computational polyversality, holographic ‘source equals open’ everything
- Baboon Television – it bites: multiple eyes of hybrid jungle hive mind projecting chameleonic / shamanic predator dreamstates
- Exploring the omega maze: contemplative labyrinthine pathways through collective post Jungian neural hyper-matrix
Notable Neuropink programmers / states
- Jean Moebius Giraud: for senses of cosmic life infinite
- Paul Laffoley: for working time machines
- Chris Cunningham: for post digital fx
- Ian Francis: for endless neuro-smeared summer
- Redline: for when Funkyboy also destroys Roboworld
- Warframe: ninjarific
- Mahakala: for unquenchable radiance of supreme emptiness
- Ray Ogar: for technical glitched precision
- Jean Michel Jarre: for his exoplanetary senses
- Roy Batty: for his midnight megacity poetics
- Captain Blood on the Amiga 500 / Atari ST: for alien communication
- Shandra Manaya, Argon Queen: for raking virtual video flesh now gone
- The Future Sound Of London: for the impossibilities of lifeforms
- Cephalopods: for ir hyper surface manifested thoughts
- Alex Colville / Eric Fischl: for stark alienation / violent haunted potentiality
- Sentionauts: for being beyond the black rainbow
- Horse Ebooks: for meta surrealist daring
- Galaucus Atlanticus: for grand oceanic form
- Geek City: for cool cats
- Thumper: for entomological mytho narrative
- Shinya Tsukamoto: for psychological character intensity
- Elias Koteas as Vaughan from Crash: for that R&D drive
- Bruce Sterling’s Artificial Kid: for instant grasp of emergent media
- Yo Landi Vi$$er: for zef rats in the walls of the worlds
- Laurie Anderson: for her Big Science
- David Shields: for poking at leaky literary dams
- Haikasoru / Kurodahan: for delicious sci flavours
- SCP Foundation: for databases of the aggressively unexplainable
- Reza Negarestani: for geo traumatic sensors and theory-fiction
- Robert Smithson: for Hyper-Ballardian mind spirals
- Dr Hans Reinhardt: for grand dinners / ego blinkers
- Blue Cube from Mulholland Drive: for acute ontological disruption
- Tetsuo Shima from Akira: for extreme psychic deformation
- Tetsuo II: for the body hammer
- Killy from Blame!: for tardigrade toughness
- Raiden from Metal Gear: for hammy dialogue
- Hyung Tae Kim: for long shiny legs
- Visual Kei: for that raw Cyberpunk-era style embarrassment
- Nordic LARP: for traversing narrative at oblique angles
- Insilico roleplayers: for grace under information pressure
- Fist Of The North Star: for flawless technique
- Quantum Cathedral: for hardcore oldskool cyber gothics
- Stephen Shaviro: for metaphysical theory laz0rs
- Mark Leyner: for the menthol of autumn
- Omni Magazine: for that immense vertical vision
- Mariko Mori: for bioquantum colors of combine dropship carapace
- Kenji Siratori: for the raw fucknam
- Baden Pailthorpe: for military hyper aesthetic space drone critique
- Simulacra Syndicate: for aesthetic hyper specificity
- Max Capacity: for transgressive glitch aesthetics
- Zoran Rosko Vacuum: for dedicated reviews
- Future Interfaces: for more input
- Hatsune Miku: for hyper-virtual tonality
- Kidmograph: for animated near future
- Kilian Eng: for the details
- Theo Kamecke: for the polish
- Rob Hardin: for fistic hermaphrodites
- International Journal of Baudrillard Studies: for the lean clean blade
- Vaporwave: for Windows 95
- 3D Additivism: for plastic extrusion into other
- Unknown Fields Division: for research in wild
- Berserker Powerup / Soul Cube: for the sudden metallo-clang
- WonABC: for hyper detailed undead
- Pussykrew: for the corporate aesthetics
Consider any sufficiently advanced biotech as indistinguishable from postmodern metaphysics
– Freelance Amateur Postmodern Internet Theorist Robert What
Update Patch: Neuropink coding guide – initial outline
- Deep systems rather than charismatic individuals
- Full spectrum neural remix rather than heroic pinky-whites
- Algorithms rather than attitude
Example Neuropink Logos
A .xsy-fi seared ‘humalian’ space-ape brain unit.
To also consider a Wayback Machine deep dive of “Quantum Cathedral”, a before-its-time Post-Cyberpunk (‘Neuropink’) art project by John Stifter.
Featuring heavily CGI generated models of holy meta-warriors on a galactic mission out of America The Infinite.
A Salty Spunk Taste of Mainstream Corporate Rebellion
Cyberpunk is dead, get over it. (Didn’t you get the popover holomail? Update your eyeball drivers or something.)
Eye-rollingly (90’s) generic, certified irony-free corporate rebellion
// how to play big science