Cyberpunk and Visual Culture

Science fiction writing today presents situations that enable us to perceive the potential of new technologies.

Marshall McLuhan

Cyberpunk science fiction emerged in a decade that saw an unprecedented ascendency of visual and virtual media in popular culture. Within the expansive mediascape of the 1980s and 1990s, cyberpunk’s aesthetics took firm root, relying heavily on visual motifs for its near-future splendor saturated in media technologies, both real and fictitious, such as video games, music videos, computer-generated worlds, augmented realities, consensual hallucinations, data networks, and many other technologies. As today’s realities look increasingly like the futures forecast in science fiction, cyberpunk speaks to our contemporary moment and as a cultural formation dominates our 21st century techno-digital landscapes.

The 15 essays gathered into Cyberpunk and Visual Culture engage the social and cultural changes that define our cyberpunk moment(s) and address the visual language and aesthetic repertoire of cyberpunk – from cybernetic organisms to light, energy, and data flows, from video screens to cityscapes, from the vibrant energy of today’s video games to the visual hues of comic book panels, and more. Unlike other anthologies that limit their analytical apparatus to literary cyberpunk, the essays of Cyberpunk and Visual Culture provide critical analysis, close readings, and aesthetic interpretations of exactly those visual elements that define cyberpunk today, moving beyond the limitations of merely printed text to also focus on the meaningfulness of images, forms, and compositions that are the heart and lifeblood of cyberpunk graphic novels, films, television shows, and video games.

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