Tag Archives: Cyberpunk

An Exotic Lie Detector, A Consensual Hallucination, Crime Coefficient over 531

 

Last week I researched the Cyberpunk genre, its dystopic settings, its portrayal of (or the lack of) the separation of the organic and artificial, as well as Jon Turneys “Imagined objects”. From here I will begin refining my final digital artefact, with the aim of developing a complete Virtual Cyberpunk Store.

To begin, I have selected the first 3 objects I will be exploring:

1. The Voight Kampff Machine – Blade Runner:
A lie detector-type device that allows the user to distinguish between humans and androids using biometrical measurements.

 

2. The OSC 7 Cyberdeck – Neuromancer:
An advanced computer system used to jack into the matrix.

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3. The DominatorPsycho-Pass:
A gun that can determine the identity of the user, requiring authentication in order to read and send psychological data (Psycho-Pass) of targets in order to calculate their crime coefficient.

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For each of these objects displayed in my store, I will create an in-depth discourse exploring the textual background and the contextual societal concerns, as well as a description of what they are used for within their texts.
A further element I am considering is pricing the items in specific currencies, and possibly even creating comparisons between similar items.

This will involve drawing on Cyberpunk theory, as well as wider sci-fi theory and how these genres impact on real science and technology. Furthermore, research into Design Fiction will help in my representation of the ‘imagined objects’. Lastly, and most obviously I will, and have been, engaging in the texts of which these items come from.

Another step which I am about take is to begin developing the store site. If I can find an effective way of reading material within VR, I will definitely be looking at creating a VR store, with my items through Unreal Engine. However, I feel a much more realistic approach will be to create a web-store.

 

Weird Fiction and the Visual

> Notes on Writing Weird Fiction

Weird fiction is, at its core, playing on our deep fear of the unknown. When Lovecraft’s characters encounter an impossibility, language is used to weave around the subject – leaving the thing itself indescribable. My project, a Lovecraft/Cyberpunk comic with accompanying transmedia components, relies on the visual. However, to represent something visually is to give the audience knowledge of the thing. A direct visual representation provides the subject with a solid, understandable form, thus diminishing its effect. My task is to reconcile this.

I’ve enlisted the help of Lovecraft himself with this task, in a sense. Through consultation of his essay, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction, I’ve identified the key

> The Power of the Visual

“My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.”

H. P. Lovecraft in T. Joshi 1995, ‘Notes on Writing Weird Fiction’

Here is my  Lovecraft uses careful language to describe a feeling or atmosphere that is often based on something visual. I want to evoke this.

The Power of Visual Material: Persuasion, Emotion and Identification (Joffe, H 2008) describes disgust as one of the most powerful tools in a visual work’s arsenal for the strong reactions it evokes. This is also something I’ve noticed in my perusal of other Lovecraftian comics – disgusting imagery is used as a shortcut to building a fearful atmosphere.

If a stone is thrown into a pond, you understand what created the ripples. But if all you see are the ripples, you’re left wondering if it were a stone after all. Maybe a fish? Did it come from above the water or below the surface? Or was the water disturbed by a deep shudder in the earth below it?

Original Post on Data Eater Blog: Weird Fiction and the Visual

Cyberpunk and Design Fiction – A way to explore imagined technologies.

As I am aiming to create a virtual storefront for imagined objects within Cyberpunk texts, it’s important to have a clear definition of the Cybercultural elements I will be looking to explore in depth.

Firstly and most importantly, I must define what a Cyberpunk text is.

Cyberpunk:

While rather lengthy I feel Erich Schneider perfectly explains Cyberpunk:

 “Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with marginalized people in technologically-enhanced cultural ‘systems’. In cyberpunk stories’ settings, there is usually a ‘system’ which dominates the lives of most ‘ordinary’ people, be it an oppressive government, a group of large, paternalistic corporations, or a fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies (today advancing at a rate that is bewildering to most people), particularly ‘information technology’ (computers, the mass media), making the system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological system extends into its human ‘components’ as well, via brain implants, prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans themselves become part of ‘the Machine’. This is the ‘cyber’ aspect of cyberpunk. However, in any cultural system, there are always those who live on its margins, on ‘the Edge’: criminals, outcasts, visionaries, or those who simply want freedom for its own sake. Cyberpunk literature focuses on these people, and often on how they turn the system’s technological tools to their own ends. This is the ‘punk’ aspect of cyberpunk.”

 

Cyberpunk is known as ‘Hard Science Fiction’, due to the strong reliance on science and technology. Cyberpunk breaks down the separation between the organic and the artificial, or, between the human and the machine. They often focus on how technology has resulted in a dystopian society.

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Jon Turney discusses the influence of Science Fiction on the trajectory of technological development in his paper ‘Imagining technology’ (2013). This piece of work is fundamental to my research, at least in these early stages. Turney (2013 p. 8) states that Science Fiction “is an important arena for imagining the effects of technologies, existing and yet to come. Its imagined worlds are ones in which life is enabled or constrained by technologies in ways we have not yet seen in our world. Whether we do see them realised may then be influenced by the role technologies play in these alternate realities.” Therefore, Cyberpunk is a cultural response used for exploring technologies that have led to, or that are within, the previously mentioned dystopian society.

This brings me to the technological objects within these texts, specifically, the ones I will be analysing. What makes an object Cyberpunk technology?

The ‘Novum’:

Turney explains a key feature in Science Fiction texts. Most stories have a ‘novum’ – “a feature which defines a key difference between the reader’s everyday world and the world being portrayed” (Turney 2013 p. 7). The novum is usually technological, the most common tropes of science fiction texts are that of tools and machines , such as computers, virtual reality, robots and spaceships.
It is therefore important that my imagined objects or, ‘novum’s’, explore the implications of technology on the world.

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Hence, Cyberpunk is a literary genre used to explore the relationship between organic humans and artificial technologies and the resulting effects on the world.

It is these technologies that I will be pulling out of their texts and exploring their historical, societal and contextual backgrounds.

Design Fiction:

Whilst not exactly Cyberpunk, or even Science Fiction, Design Fiction may still be of value to my project. Design Fiction is an interesting attempt to explore technological possibilities of the near future. Void of the drama and stories of Science Fiction literature, Design fiction is generally a conversational piece that conveys “the kinds of experiences that might surround the designed object” (Turney 2013 p. 41). Design Fiction is the result of our knowledge of how stories influence cultural mentalities towards new technologies. As Turney (2013 p. 43) puts it, “The story we are telling ourselves about the relation between imagination and technology is changing, and so the way we try and tell stories about technology is changing, too.” Design fiction could be seen as a new way for promoting technological advancements and discussion of possible futures.

Design Fiction projects

References:

  1. Turney, J 2013, ‘Imagining technology’, Nesta Working Paper, No, 13/06, viewed 5 April 2016, <https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/imagining_technology.pdf&gt;

 

The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

Lovecraft and cyberpunk intersect through a few key themes. These exist as more of a web than a list, so I’ll do my best to explain my thoughts on them as I go.

> Cosmic Horror

The idea of nihilism – that nothing you do could possibly matter – is the first one I would tackle in order to build an atmospheric foundation for my work. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror plays on our fear of the unknown, the unknowable, and the universe’s indifference. This is the core of weird fiction, when applied subtly. The most straightforward way to transpose this onto a cyberpunk setting is through a metropolis which functions as a microcosm of Lovecraft’s universe-spanning horror. Manifestations of the nihilism that comes with cosmic horror in cyberpunk include rampant drug culture and escapism, as well as human redundancy with androids and AI.

> Magic and Technology

The second issue to look at is a balance between magic and technology – or fantasy and science fiction. This is a particularly cyberpunk theme that has parallels in Lovecraft. The futuristic technologies that exist in cyberpunk spaces act as a necronomicon of sorts – a technology with fundamental importance yet unknown breadth.

> The City’s Beating Heart

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I dove into the idea of a “living city” as a starting point for my visual experiments with intersecting cyberpunk and Lovecraft. Though it’s a lot more straightforward than much of Lovecraft’s nuanced weird fiction, which relies far more on uncertainty, this kind of visualisation is an important part of the experimentation process. The top of the image is obscured in smog and darkness – it is distant, crowded, and cold. The closer you get to the bottom, the more vibrant it becomes – and more disorganised and slum-like. This is where the life is; the warm bodies on cold ground. Up the top exist the people with a voice but no ears, and down the bottom exist the people with ears but no voice.

Original post on Data Eater: The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

A Cyber-punk Storefront

For the first time in my university life I think I have found an idea I genuinely like and have it rather organised before week 6. As an update, my digital artefact for DIGC335 will be an in-depth look at several major imagined objects from Cyber-punk texts. This will include a description of the object and its uses within their respective text, and then the historical and social contexts of which these objects and devices have derived from. Furthermore, I will be exploring how such objects are a reaction to real world fears and concerns portrayed through the Cyber-punk genre, or alternatively, how this article explains, that dystopic Sci-fi could be generating fears towards future technologies.

I have narrowed down the formats which I am considering using to two possibilities (at the moment). Firstly, and simply I can’t go past the idea of a simple ‘imgur’ album with descriptions. This format will be easy to create and easy to navigate, but because of this simplicity it may be boring and dull to view. Which brings me to the second possibility, which wasn’t entirely my idea but I do really like it. Angus suggested in our tutorial of creating a virtual storefront where my objects could be displayed. This would certainly create an interesting aesthetic for viewing the objects and could possibly allow for a more holistic experience with each object. This ‘experience’ would be created through a series of images for each object, with descriptions and annotations, overall providing, I feel, a cleaner format. Nevertheless, I have time to continue developing these ideas.4ff54bb1f8e6045336d11414443864e0

In the meantime, I have begun researching my first two objects, The Voight Kampff tester from ‘Bladerunner’ and The Dominator from ‘Psycho-pass’. Both are proving to be quite interesting to research, not only their uses and context but the ideologies behind such objects. Both of these objects revolve around power, control and the search for truth.

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The search for more interesting items within Cyberpunk continues. I’m looking to possibly do a virtual reality system, be it also from ‘Psycho-Pass’, ‘Sword-Art Online’ or ‘Neuromancer’. I’m also leaning towards exploring the Neuralyzer from Men In Black. Although this might be stretching the genre of Cyber-punk a little too far…

Either way, the search continues and any pointers would be much appreciated!

Building from Cyberpunk

>GOALS

My immediate research goal for DIGC335 is to unpack ‘cyberpunk’ as a term, as an aesthetic, and as a theory, and nail down the history and themes involved. This will allow me to begin building a digital artefact. For that, I have two trains of thought:

The first, a Lovecraft comic. Synthesizing Lovecraftian and cyberpunk settings and themes, I will either transpose an existing H. P. Lovecraft short story into a comic – or I will create a smaller series of comics as part of a larger worldbuilding exercise.

The second, a dramatic podcast on the observations of an AI testing facility. From the perspective of a worker at the facility who is present but not entirely part of its inner goings on, this podcast would consist of both thoughtful and off-hand observations of the various behaviours of the AI being tested, exploring a range.

Both branches would require additional research, unique to itself, beyond the theme of cyberpunk. My plan is to continue my research into cyberpunk and work on both branches until one of two things happens: a) one overrides the other in relevance and quality of research and content, or b) I have a sufficient sample of both, which will contribute to a larger world and story.

>THE GIFT

And, as a relevant interest piece, take a look at this short film:

Original post: Building from Cyberpunk // data eater

Cyberpunks Not Dead

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My favorite movies are Sci-Fi, but more specifically Cyberpunk is my favorite sub-genre of Sci-Fi. Movies like Blade Runner with brooding, gun toting, out cast protagonists and not so far off futures saturated with super advanced mundane technologies, urban decay, power balances and oppression.

Lately I have noticed that there aren’t a lot of new movies like this, unless they are reboots of pre-existing movies. This got me thinking about why this may be the case. Is it simply because the trend is over? Just like fashion trends, movies have always come in waves, that are hot one minute and then gone the next; the current trend being Super Hero Action Blockbusters.

I can’t help but think. however, that it could be more to do with the idea that Cyberpunk as a genre formed as a result of mans fear of technology. Cyberpunk is always set in a near future…

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