Cyberpunk, as a genre, includes a wide variety of visual aesthetics, but is recognised by it's encompassing theme of "high tech, low life" that started to gain prominence in the 1980s, thanks to the works of authors like Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, J. G. Ballard, Philip Jose Farmer, and Harlan Ellison as they examined the impact of drug culture, technology, and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction.
Settings in the cyberpunk genre range from the richly colored, rough-around-the-edges urban jungles of Akira (1988), to the hyper-futuristic, neon cityscapes and bleak wastelands of Blade Runner 2049 (2017), with the first work in cyberpunk fiction being William Gibson's Neuromancer novel.
Themes used in cyberpunk media involve artificial intelligence, class uprising, governmental and corporate corruption, anarchy, gang warfare, and transhumanism. The range is broad but the cyberpunk aesthetic is often used to convey deeper meanings and commentate on modern society and sometimes predictions of our future society.
Cyberpunk was likely the partial inspiration (or anti-inspiration) for Solarpunk- an aesthetic that also aspires to cast a glance into the future, but does so with a much less nihilistic perspective and definitely played a role in inspiring Vaporwave, since both seem to share a seeming disdain for mainstream capitalism, but Vaporwave is more sarcastic and mocking compared to Cyberpunk, which is more open with its disdain for the corporate dystopia. In truth, most online aesthetics almost completely owe their entire existence to Cyberpunk and its rebelliousness to the status quo of the 1980's; everything from the Steampunk and Dieselpunk of yesteryear to any sort of microgenres that will pop up in the future.
Cyberpunk fashion is heavily influenced by films like Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner, and The Matrix and could be interpreted as being "futuristic gothic fashion" and involves trenchcoats, boots, shiny black clothing, colored "dreads" that women will often wear, etc.
- High-Cyber Gypsy
- Damascus Apparel
- Plastik Wrap
- Memetic Tees
- R.A.G.E. Nation Apparel
Film and Television
Cyberpunk has been very influential to film and television, inspiring the aesthetics of movies (Blade Runner/The Matrix/Johnny Mnemonic), television shows (Altered Carbon/Black Mirror/Reboot), anime (Akira/Ghost in the Shell). There just seems to be something encoded into the DNA of cyberpunk that makes it incredibly compatible with a lot of future-themed speculative media, even that aimed for children (an argument could even be made that the Sonic SatAM series from the 90's is something of an example of cyberpunk, since it involves a group of freedom fighters fighting back an oppressive technologically-based regime run by Dr. Robotnik).
- Cyberpunk Spotify playlist by Aofd3
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Transhumanism is an international philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology. This very philosophy has very close ties to the Cyberpunk aesthetic in that, what's more Cyberpunk than becoming part human/part machine? There have also been numerous examples of protagonists in Cyberpunk fiction that are transhuman in their own right (most famously, Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell is an example of Transhumanism in Cyberpunk).