In the 80s and 90s, Cyberpunk arose as a cultural phenomenon that illuminated the contemporary social conditions by providing critical visions of the future. Cyberpunk thereby reflected the changes and processes that gave birth to the genre: when the internet expanded massively, virtual reality seemed like a real possibility, human bodies were subjected to technological modification, postmodernity took over and neoliberalism – the increased power of multinational corporations – led to the decreased significance of national borders.
In diminishing the boundaries between Science-Fiction and cultural theory, Cyberpunk was theoretically highly influential in mapping out and anticipating social changes, thus reflecting a sense of cultural acceleration.
Philosopher and Marxist political theorist Fredric Jameson states in his essay “Cognitive Mapping”  that under late capitalism we lost the ability to locate and orient ourselves historically and socially, leading to the need for a new aesthetic and political culture to restore this ability. Cyberpunk can be seen as an attempt at precisely what Jameson had in mind. This becomes even more significant when Cyberpunk is connected to Mark Fisher’s concept of Capitalist Realism: "the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible to imagine a coherent alternative to it.” [Capitalist Realism, 2009] According to the cultural theorist and philosopher, Cyberpunk was one of the last attempts to imagine a new future.
In this Q-Tutorial, we want to examine the cultural significance of American and Japanese Cyberpunk by paying special attention to the entanglement of space and identities in the sphere of postmodernism and capitalist realism. The focus will be on the cinematographic aesthetics of multicultural metropolises in the light of a seemingly dystopian future. How are (Cyber-)bodies and -identities constructed, blurred and dissolved by and within these (Cyber-)spaces? What about the ongoing feedback loop?
By screening BLADE RUNNER, THE MATRIX, AKIRA, GHOST IN THE SHELL, SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN; reading Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Donna Haraway, Fredric Jameson, Mark Fisher, Sadie Plant, Jean Baudrillard and watching a lot of nerdy YouTube clips, we explore these intersections of space and identities from a more research-based perspective (preferably inter- and transdisciplinary) while trying to find experimental approaches. There will be small groups working on specific sub-questions throughout the semester. Whether you feel you want to go deep into the philosophical or cultural implications of the outlined questions or highlight your ideas and results in more artistic way, like shooting a short experimental film or writing a poetic text – it’s all up to you. An exhibition is already planned and we also have a guest (maybe several) talking with us about Cyberfeminism. Everyone is more than welcome, we can use English and/or German as the preferred seminar language, please write me an email if you already know you want to attend: email@example.com
Thank you so much for your interest! Unfortunately the participants list has reached capacity. We can put you on a waiting list and inform you, if there will be free spots available.