Cyberpunk & Representation

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, typically set in the future. It involves predictions of overwhelming tech culture, united with some form of radical change or breakdown in the social order.  The term Cyberpunk first appeared in William Gibson’s novel, Neuromancer, in 1984. Science fiction author Lawrence Person, describes a classic cyberpunk character as marginalized and reclusive. Living in the outskirts of a dystopic society, they encounter rapid technological alterations, including modification of the human body and an omnipresent datasphere of computerised information. In the late 1980’s, a cyberpunk was also the label given to malicious hackers who illegally access computer networks. 

In Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic (1981), characters are mutated to suggest dystopic visions related to the reconstruction of social identities. David Thomas uses the idiom “Technophilic Body” to depict functional and aesthetic transformations that reconstitute the organic and sensorial architecture of a human body. Visions of future systems have been explored through cyberculture since the 1960s in literature and on screen. Many aspects of pop culture harness the ideologies presented cyberpunk realms, generating significant representations of mainstream Internet culture. An early example would be The Jetsons, (1962) a family who live in a futuristic utopia. More recently, Matt Groening and David X Cohen have adapted and explored cyberpunk themes in the TV series (and later in the videogame game), Futurama (1999).

Set on earth in the year 3000, Futurama is a classic cyberpunk parody with present libertarian, consumer and anti-corporist elements. There is a minority of low socio-economic groups that are segregated from the rest of society, a vast majority of characters with body modifications, as well as the prominence of androids, Robot Rebellions, layered cities, cybercriminals, evil megacorps, and a cyberspace… with some episodes depicting societies that are completely controlled by computers.

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