Allow me to introduce myself. My name is PR1MAL CYPHER. I am a child of the 80’s and thus from the earliest generation of Millennials, which was especially influenced by the new technologies that emerged during this time. My consumption of computer games has been very limited throughout my life, but I cannot deny that they have influenced me significantly in the way I look at life and society. This is especially true of “Final Fantasy 7”, which was basically the very first of a few games that I played with passion until the end. In fact, it wasn’t primarily the very appealing entertainment factor – it was basically the rebellious component; the dystopian elements, the struggle against a mega-cooperation that took life away from the planet in order to profit from it in a selfish way, that captivated me. “Profit” a word that in its original etymological meaning actually means „a gain for the soul”…nowadays we associate something completely different with it…so it was in FF7 and especially regarding the attitude of the Shinra Corporation… I was 15 at that time.
Two years later, I was called up for a military medical examination, which took place over the course of two days. After a night full of drinking and carelessness I found myself back in the barracks on the second day. My friends and I were to wait in a larger hall and we were shown films for entertainment. Two films to be exact: Fightclub and Matrix I. – due to the consequences of alcohol and lack of sleep my body wanted to send me to the land of dreams, but my mind was wide awake, every cell of my body was vibrating and my whole being was in harmony with these two wonderful films. In retrospect, it seems incredible to what extent I identified with them, how they shaped my further view of the world, and what an irony it was that an institution like the military showed potential recruits exactly these two films, which at their core, among other things, deal with rebellion against ruling structures. Back then, these were not just films for me. I felt understood. I felt as if all my rebellious desires, my resentment against certain structures and authorities were suddenly more justified than ever before.
It was obvious that no matter how “normalized” and indoctrinated I was by certain systems, my basic character structure was anti-authoritarian, subversive and rebellious, which was reflected in recurring problems in the various systems. Over time I became more moderate and found a different way of dealing with it, which also led me to place my master’s thesis specifically in the areas of “cultural criticism, manipulation and psychoanalysis”, as I wanted to answer many questions more profoundly to myself. Why am I telling all this? – Because during all this time something always accompanied me that had and has a very special meaning for me – an affinity and passion for CYBERPUNK, which led me to the current series “2084” and which is especially close to my heart.
“2084” represents a very complex project; a journey through time; a panopticon that wants to show a narrow tightrope walk between utopia and dystopia and opens a space that pays tribute to the cyberpunk genre. The series has to be divided into several articles in order not to go beyond the scope of a usual readiness to read. The treatment of the topics contained in it will of course not do justice to their complexity, but that’s not the point. For the aim and purpose of the “2084” series is, apart from an artistic visualization and the treatment of socially relevant topics, which will have a massive influence on us now already and especially in the future through coming and more mature technologies – a critical examination of these topics. At the centre, is the human being; – the search for oneself, the longing of the individual; the desire to love and be loved deeply and strongly, and the question: What remains for us in terms of humanity, dignity and autonomy in the face of a world that is increasingly influenced by technology (!?)
2. In media res: Turn of an era
Let’s face the facts – humanity is currently undergoing massive change. We are entering a new stage of history and many of the past literary or cinematic dystopian representations of potential future visions of our society seem to be partially and increasingly reflected in reality.
Novels of the past century like “Simulacron-3”, “Neuromancer” or “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” may be nothing more than science fiction for most people… but in reality, we are getting closer to many of the ideas they contain.
Just recently Elon Musk announced that he wants to start human trials with his company Neuralink in the coming months regarding an implementation of brain chips. The possible areas of application are manifold and there is talk of a potential cure for various diseases. In addition, the successful development and implementation of such a device is aimed at raising the data processing capabilities of the human brain to the level of a computer. Brain implants; electronic brain transfer between chipped people; A.I. based brain control – all this should be ready for the market within the next two decades.
After a period of calm, “virtual reality” is becoming more popular again. Especially the COVID era showed an increase in usage. VR not only fascinates more technology enthusiasts and early users. VR is cross-sectoral: film industry, sex industry, sports industry, gaming industry, etc. – more and more want to get involved in this business of the future. The technical possibilities are increasing exponentially and so are the possibilities to make artificial realities as real as possible.
Other companies such as Boston Dynamics are working in the field of robotics and are more and more able to imitate stable and incredibly fluid movements. Robots will not only be used for military purposes, but will also find their place in our everyday lives in human form – be it as workers or sex toys.
DNA sequencing, stem cell research and nanotechnology will be strongly promoted; 3D printing of organs will be brought to completion; medicine will be automated and/or supported by robotics and A.I.; traffic and vehicles will be automated; urbanisation will increase strongly; cyberspace will become faster and more efficient; food from the retort; the optimization of humans through technology; increased extraterrestrial exploration; more mature digital identification systems (ID 2020, etc.). ), which will be more widely used in everyday life and allow more control; quantum computers; artificial intelligence that can perfectly imitate us humans in various ways (GPT-3, etc.), universal translators; cashless society, and so on and so forth. The list could go on. Some of these are already the present; some will only be fully developed in the future and some may not have been considered at all and develop spontaneously and due to new findings or are consciously held back. We humans, we are in a turn of an era.
3. Outlining: CYBERPUNK
As mentioned above, many of the releases from the “cyberpunk” genre with their underlying visions of the future and the resulting social and technical reality were only just ahead of schedule. Let’s now travel from the present and the potential future back into the past and pursue the question what cyberpunk actually is. – “Cyberpunk” as a term found its way into history through Bruce Bethke with his publication of the same name and was later further coined by other authors.
These days we understand it as a subculture with a particular aesthetic and style. This style is mostly gloomy, takes place in a dystopian future within an urban society. Neon colours and generally the omnipresence of advertising and possibilities of hedonistic distraction shape the appearance.
This future is significantly shaped by various highly developed technologies; much of the narrative action takes place on the streets, where smaller and larger gangs of different directions fight for dominance, respect and power. Capitalism is presented in a perverted form and has reached extreme proportions. Mega-corporations are at the top of the food chain and have a fundamental influence on the political level, which under the domination of the companies resembles a mendacious spectacle subject to a dictatorship of money and these companies. Corruption governs everyday life. Totalitarian systems are successful with their task forces and brutal execution structures.
The gap between rich and poor is enormous, the poor fight their way through everyday life in the shadow of the super-rich, the middle class is atrophied and consists mainly of very tech-savvy people who spend most of their time in cyberspace or otherwise conformist in the system. The people tend to be isolated, but at the same time they have less privacy and social decay is clearly visible.
The recurrent phrase “High tech. Low life.” has a deep meaning here, because in their “dehumanized” way of life, people maintain an intimacy with machines; away from the divine … one with the machine and alone and lonely with technology. The scenarios of cyberpunk always have an abundance of technology, because it is fashionable, sexy, attractive and very convincing. Technology on and in the body. Man, he wants to continuously break through boundaries … further, faster and higher.
The general atmosphere is dystopian, dark, defeatist and Frederic Jameson describes cyberpunk in the last consequence as “the supreme literary expression if not of postmodernism then of late capitalism itself”.
Cyberpunk is rebellious, political and often has outsiders as protagonists who rebel against the ruling structures and their oppression by turning the tools of the oppressors against themselves. It is this deeply critical nature that makes cyberpunk so interesting in addition to its special aesthetics. The world that we humans have created for ourselves is not simply taken for granted … it is questioned, as is the human who created it.
4. Cyberpunk and Cryptoart
From this brief sketch of cyberpunk, one can see a clear proximity to the “original” development of cryptoart, which as a narrow term tried and tries to reflect exactly this – a critical encounter and rebellion against a monetary system that binds people in a certain dependency, in which injustice, inequality and conditions prevail that are not beneficial to most people.
At the centre of this was always Bitcoin’s original intention to create a trustless system in which everyone had access to the possibility of “being his own bank”; as well as the increase in privacy. Bitcoin is a symbol of this, and with its roots in “Cypherpunk”, a monument to the ills of our global turbo-capitalist society, which is increasingly threatening to resemble the conditions described above.
For me personally and according to my own understanding of “Cryptart”, the critical examination must be much more profound and look into a darker abyss. A critical look at the current monetary system, Wall Street and the machinations in the financial sector is not enough, as this is only one part of the whole. In a playful way and based on various poetic approaches, this is exactly what the following articles of 2084 will attempt to do.
END PART I