Special Issue "Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "New Media".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 May 2018).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Takayuki Tatsumi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Professor, Department of English, Keio University, Tokyo 108-8345, Japan
Interests: extraterritorial; posthumanism; outlaw technologist; cyberpunk; steampunk; virtual idol

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the inception of cyberpunk in the early 1980s, which coincided with the dawn of the Internet and the rise of computer hackers, the movement has consistently created a tremendous impact on today's literature and culture, ranging from manga and anime to cinema. William Gibson's 1980s Cyberspace Trilogy (Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)), which explored the frontier of cyberspace, another name for the Internet coined by the same author, was followed by his 1990s “Bridge Trilogy” (Virtual Light (1993), Idoru (1996) and All Tomorrow's Parties (1999)) featuring a virtual idol Rei Toei, without whom no AI Beauty (such as Hatsune Miku) could have been created. However, here, we should reconsider the extraterritorial status of Gibson, who immigrated from South Carolina to Toronto, Canada, to evade the draft. Being a typical outsider, Gibson put special emphasis on the Lo-Tek spirit of a countercultural tribe in the post-apocalyptic near-future, and replace the keyword "steampunk" with "post-apocalypse". Which was to be shared by the punk kids that Otomo describes in Akira and human weapons distinguished director Shinya Tsukamoto represents in his TETSUO trilogy (1989–2010), one of the major inheritors of the Japanese Apache created by Komatsu Sakyo, a founding father of Japanese science fiction, in his first novel Nippon Apacchi-zoku (The Japanese Apache (1964)) as I detailed in Full Metal Apache (Duke UP, 2006). A further descendant of cyberpunk could well be easily noticed in Neil Blomkamp's South-African post-cyberpunk film, District 9 (2009), in which the natives of Johannesburg and the miserable aliens lost in space turn out to have the Lo-Tek spirit in common.

Yes, cyberpunk is not so much a literary and (sub-)cultural subgenre celebrating the growth of high-technology as the neo-extraterritorial spirit of Lo-Tek tribes born out of postmodern streets. What matters now is that, in this context, cyberpunk has started gaining new significance, not only in today's arts of representation, but also in international/transnational politics.

This Special Issue of Arts on cyberpunk looks forward to receiving ambitious and provocative articles to reconsider this movement from a global perspective.

Dr. Takayuki Tatsumi
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • extraterritorial
  • posthumanism
  • outlaw technologist
  • steampunk
  • virtual idol

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Open AccessEditorial
The Future of Cyberpunk Criticism: Introduction to Transpacific Cyberpunk
Arts 2019, 8(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8010040 - 25 Mar 2019
Abstract
The genesis of cyberpunk criticism could well be dated to March 1987, when Stephen P [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available

Research

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Open AccessArticle
New Spaces for Old Motifs? The Virtual Worlds of Japanese Cyberpunk
Arts 2018, 7(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040060 - 05 Oct 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
North-American cyberpunk’s recurrent use of high-tech Japan as “the default setting for the future,” has generated a Japonism reframed in technological terms. While the renewed representations of techno-Orientalism have received scholarly attention, little has been said about literary Japanese science fiction. This paper [...] Read more.
North-American cyberpunk’s recurrent use of high-tech Japan as “the default setting for the future,” has generated a Japonism reframed in technological terms. While the renewed representations of techno-Orientalism have received scholarly attention, little has been said about literary Japanese science fiction. This paper attempts to discuss the transnational construction of Japanese cyberpunk through Masaki Gorō’s Venus City (Vīnasu Shiti, 1992) and Tobi Hirotaka’s Angels of the Forsaken Garden series (Haien no tenshi, 2002–). Elaborating on Tatsumi’s concept of synchronicity, it focuses on the intertextual dynamics that underlie the shaping of those texts to shed light on Japanese cyberpunk’s (dis)connections to techno-Orientalism as well as on the relationships between literary works, virtual worlds and reality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Some Aspects of California Cyberpunk
Arts 2018, 7(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040054 - 27 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper explores the rise and fall of Cyberpunk influences in California’s Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay area circa 1988–93, in prevalent technologies, industry, by artists and in enthusiastic magazines thriving there. Attentive to the Cyberpunk novelists, an animating spirituality of the [...] Read more.
This paper explores the rise and fall of Cyberpunk influences in California’s Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay area circa 1988–93, in prevalent technologies, industry, by artists and in enthusiastic magazines thriving there. Attentive to the Cyberpunk novelists, an animating spirituality of the time also looks to Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Caring about the Past, Present, and Future in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn
Arts 2018, 7(4), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040053 - 25 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This essay argues that William Gibson’s 2003 novel, Pattern Recognition, rejects the stylistic and formal trappings of cyberpunk that he himself helped create in the 1980s in order to reformulate the movement’s aesthetics of participation for the 21st Century. This participatory aesthetic [...] Read more.
This essay argues that William Gibson’s 2003 novel, Pattern Recognition, rejects the stylistic and formal trappings of cyberpunk that he himself helped create in the 1980s in order to reformulate the movement’s aesthetics of participation for the 21st Century. This participatory aesthetic is structured by a set of temporal concerns: A past made ever more available through information technology and yet ever more materially irrecoverable, a present subject to increasingly rapid change and therefore briefer and more difficult to interpret, and a bleak future of inevitable capitalist commodification. Within this temporal vortex, Gibson’s protagonist finds compensatory solace in her ability to see patterns and thus develop strategies by which to value objects and people in new ways. She learns how to care, and what to care for. From this analysis of Pattern Recognition, the essay tracks this aesthetic into Guerrilla Games’ 2017 Horizon: Zero Dawn—a popular entry in a medium that promises participatory involvement on a new scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
European Cyberpunk Cinema
Arts 2018, 7(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7030045 - 30 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Renaissance (2006) and Metropia (2009) are two illustrative examples of European cyberpunk cinema of the 2000s. This article will consider the films as representative of contemporary trends in European popular filmmaking. As digital animations aimed at adult audiences and co-produced with other European [...] Read more.
Renaissance (2006) and Metropia (2009) are two illustrative examples of European cyberpunk cinema of the 2000s. This article will consider the films as representative of contemporary trends in European popular filmmaking. As digital animations aimed at adult audiences and co-produced with other European countries, they epitomise a type of European film. In addition, they share a number of narrative premises. Set in the near future, Renaissance and Metropia depict a dystopian Europe. Recycling motifs from non-European science fiction classics, they share similar concerns with interconnectivity, surveillance, immigration, class, the representation of women, as well as the obsession with beauty and physical perfection. This article will analyse their themes and aesthetics in order to explore how European popular cinema promotes a certain idea of European cultural identity within the limits of an industry whose products are targeted at a global market. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Cyberpunk Redux: Dérives in the Rich Sight of Post-Anthropocentric Visuality
Arts 2018, 7(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7030038 - 10 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Our future effects on the earth, in light of the Anthropocene, are all dire expressions of a depleted world left in piles of detritus and toxic ruin—including the diminished human as an assemblage of impoverished existence, yet adumbrating that handicapped existence with an [...] Read more.
Our future effects on the earth, in light of the Anthropocene, are all dire expressions of a depleted world left in piles of detritus and toxic ruin—including the diminished human as an assemblage of impoverished existence, yet adumbrating that handicapped existence with an ersatz advanced technology. In the cyberpunk films, these expressions are primarily visual expressions—whether through written prose thick with densely dark adjectives describing the world of cyberpunk, or more widely known, the comic books and films of cyberpunk, whose representations have become classically understood as SF canon. The new films of the cyberpunk redux however, represent an evolution in cyberpunk visuality. Despite these debatable issues around this term, it will provide this paper with its primary object of visuality, that of the “rich sight”, a further term that arose from the allure created in the late 19th century development of department stores that innovated the display of the goods laid out in a spectacular view, presenting the shopper with a fantasy of wealth and fetishized objects which excited shoppers to purchase, but more paradoxically, creating the desire to see a fantasy that was at the same time also a reality. This particular and enframed view—so deeply embedded and beloved in our commodity-obsessed culture—is what I suggest so profoundly typifies the initial cyberpunk postmodern representation in the Blade Runner films, and its continuing popularity in the early part of the 21st century. Both films are influenced by Ridley Scott’s initial vision of the cinematic cyberpunk universe and organized as sequential narratives. Consequently, they serve as excellent examples of the evolution of this visual spectacular. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Has Akira Always Been a Cyberpunk Comic?
Arts 2018, 7(3), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7030032 - 01 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Between the late 1980s and early 1990s, interest in the cyberpunk genre peaked in the Western world, perhaps most evidently when Terminator 2: Judgment Day became the highest-grossing film of 1991. It has been argued that the translation of Katsuhiro Ōtomo’s manga Akira [...] Read more.
Between the late 1980s and early 1990s, interest in the cyberpunk genre peaked in the Western world, perhaps most evidently when Terminator 2: Judgment Day became the highest-grossing film of 1991. It has been argued that the translation of Katsuhiro Ōtomo’s manga Akira into several European languages at just that time (into English beginning in 1988, into French, Italian, and Spanish beginning in 1990, and into German beginning in 1991) was no coincidence. In hindsight, cyberpunk tropes are easily identified in Akira to the extent that it is nowadays widely regarded as a classic cyberpunk comic. But has this always been the case? When Akira was first published in America and Europe, did readers see it as part of a wave of cyberpunk fiction? Did they draw the connections to previous works of the cyberpunk genre across different media that today seem obvious? In this paper, magazine reviews of Akira in English and German from the time when it first came out in these languages will be analysed in order to gauge the past readers’ genre awareness. The attribution of the cyberpunk label to Akira competed with others such as the post-apocalyptic, or science fiction in general. Alternatively, Akira was sometimes regarded as an exceptional, novel work that transcended genre boundaries. In contrast, reviewers of the Akira anime adaptation, which was released at roughly the same time as the manga in the West (1989 in Germany and the United States), more readily drew comparisons to other cyberpunk films such as Blade Runner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Recycled Dystopias: Cyberpunk and the End of History
Arts 2018, 7(3), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7030031 - 30 Jul 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
While cyberpunk is often described as a dystopian genre, the paper argues that it should be seen rather as a post-utopian one. The crucial difference between the two resides in the nature of the historical imagination reflected in their respective narrative and thematic [...] Read more.
While cyberpunk is often described as a dystopian genre, the paper argues that it should be seen rather as a post-utopian one. The crucial difference between the two resides in the nature of the historical imagination reflected in their respective narrative and thematic conventions. While dystopia and utopia (structurally the same genre) reflect a teleological vision of history, in which the future is radically different from the present, post-utopia corresponds to what many scholars, from Fredric Jameson and Francis Fukuyama to David Bell, have diagnosed as the “end of history” or rather, the end of historical teleology. Post-utopia reflects the vision of the “broad present”, in which the future and the past bleed into, and contaminate, the experience of “now”. From its emergence in the 1980s and until today, cyberpunk has progressively succumbed to the post-utopian sensibility, as its earlier utopian/dystopian potential has been diluted by nostalgia, repetition and recycling. By analyzing the chronotope of cyberpunk, the paper argues that the genre’s articulation of time and space is inflected by the general post-utopian mood of global capitalism. The texts addressed include both novels (William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Matthew Mather’s Atopia) and movies (Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 and Ex Machina). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Transpacific Cyberpunk: Transgeneric Interactions between Prose, Cinema, and Manga
Arts 2018, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7010009 - 02 Mar 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper attempts to meditate upon the transpacific imagination of cyberpunk by reconstructing its literary and cultural heritage. Since the publication of William Gibson’s multiple award winning first novel, Neuromancer (1984), the concept of cyberpunk has been globally popularized and disseminated not only [...] Read more.
This paper attempts to meditate upon the transpacific imagination of cyberpunk by reconstructing its literary and cultural heritage. Since the publication of William Gibson’s multiple award winning first novel, Neuromancer (1984), the concept of cyberpunk has been globally popularized and disseminated not only in the field of literature but also in culture. However, we should not forget that cyberpunk is derived not only from the cutting edge of technology but also from “Lo Tek” sensibility cultivated in the Gibsonian picturesque ruins or dark cities such as a major extraterritorial zone in Hong Kong “Kowloon Walled City” nicknamed as “a den of iniquity”, “The Casba of the East”, and “a hotbed of crime”, which was destroyed in 1993, but whose images captured by Ryuji Miyamoto inspired Gibson to come up with the spectacle of the destroyed San Francisco Bay Bridge to be stormed by ex-hippies and former homeless. From this perspective, this chapter focuses on the works ranging from Katsuhiro Otomo’s directed anime Akira (1988), Gibson’s Bridge Trilogy (Virtual Light (1993), Idoru (1996), and All Tomorrow’s Parties (1998)) in the 1990s through Project Itoh’s post-cyberpunk masterpiece Genocidal Organ (2007). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context) Printed Edition available
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