Sketched, inked and shaded; My HeartEyes.CBPK print is ready for print. I’m really proud of this one, it seems like people are really into it as well. That’s always a nice feeling. Head on over to my Redbubble store to pick up a print! →
Cyberpunk hasn’t been talked about too much since the early 2000′s but has been getting a little bit of a resurgence in the last few months that’s to the upcoming release of Ready Player One and the recent release of the live action Ghost in the Shell movie.
If you’ve never heard it; Cyberpunk is a subgenre of the punk movement. Punk was a youthful movement that embraced a combination of a self-sufficient, DIY attitude with a big middle finger to established cultural dogma. It picked apart society and aimed to lay bare places where it was failing. This was most strongly, and most famously, expressed in music. Punk, as a genre, was born in the 70′s and 80′s.
Cyberpunk is pretty self-explanatory once you know what punk was. Punk turned a critical eye towards cultural norms. Cyberpunk did that through the lens of technology. It hit it’s stride in the 80′s and 90′s, when computers, digital communication and modern mega-corporations crept into everyday life. People started looking at how exciting new technologies and social structure would effect our life. How would humanity cope with new forms of artificial intelligence? What would a hack mean in a world that grew increasingly dependent on the digital world? What happens in a world where corporations are larger than some countries? What would a person’s identity be in a world where their digital identity image and identity could be faked?
Cyberpunk was expressed more through literature than music. “High Tech, Low Life.” It was the tagline of the genre. It focused on the dark and disturbing ways technology effected us. Authors explored how humanity would cope with this. Mix in a healthy dose of film-noir style and now you’ve got some good old-fashioned classic cyberpunk!
The aesthetic usually matches the current technology and fashion trends. Back in the 80’s and 90’s bulbous, lumpy robotic suits, the exaggerated headphones, goggles, the antennae and wires sticking out of everything. Beautiful people modified by technology almost to the point of falling into the uncanny valley. Dark, dingy streets contrasted against gigantic buildings. Fog, smog, rain and neon lights were everywhere. Damn, I loved that 80′s-90′s clunky cyberpunk aesthetic. It’s so nostalgic to me.
For a while, anime was my only window into the cyberpunk genre until The Matrix blasted onto the scene in 1999. I didn’t learn about many western cyberpunk classics, like Neuromancer, until a few years later. My friends had introduced me to the Ghost in the Shell and the Akira mangas as a teenager and they quickly became favorites of mine.
BubbleGum Crisis (left) and Armitage III (right). Do the plots hold up well now? Somewhat. 90’s anime has it’s flaws and many of them show up in both. Bad voice acting work? No doubt. Some scenes in Armitage III are especially rough. Clunky editing and reworking scenes for a western audience? Oh yeah.
It was a unique time to grow up. I’m part of the last generation in the US to really grow up without an omni-present digital connection. Nowadays, the aesthetic has changed. Computers used to be big, wire-laden things. Now they’re sleek and clean and fit in our pockets. The cyberpunk aesthetic changed to match this too. So now we see shows like Black Mirror and movies like Ex-Machina or The Circle. The new style is white and shinny, almost sterile looking. Behind that clean-cut exterior authors and artists are still exploring dark cyberpunk style questions.
The genre was asking questions that are popping up almost weekly in the news now. I see the same sort of rejection of the cultural status-quo popping up, although with a different aesthetic, in the hipster and DIY movements. It’s still thriving across the internet in the wave of people fighting for social justice for long-oppressed social classes. It’s so, so awesome to see a new generation fighting like that!
Anyways, if you’ve made it this far in my post, thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you want to share a good cyberpunk movie/game/book or whatever. Or, heck, share some real-world examples. If you’re a big fan of cyberpunk, I invite you to pick up a print and show it off.
Want to get more news about my art and projects? You can check me out on social. But if you’re looking to move away from that, sign up for my newsletter. I promise I’m not secretly a large, villainous corporation bent on world domination.
(Or am I?)