cyberculture [digital artefact report]

My Digital Artefact — Future Neon, an artistic exploration of cyber-culture



Concept — The future from the perspective of cyber-culture and transhumanism

“Transhumanism is the belief that science and technology can allow us to transcend the limitations of human life.”
— Geraci, 2011. There and back again: Transhumanist evangelism in science fiction and popular science.

Originally I intended to do a broader exploration of the future in the next 20-30 years from the perspective of cyber-culture, but recently decided to narrow my focus to transhumanism in cyberpunk/sci-fi media. Some of the ideas that I tried to convey through my digital artefact were: the relation between transhumanism and spiritual concepts/religion, where religion is defined as the “negotation of what it means to be human with respect to the superhuman and subhuman” (Geraci, 2011), the morality of artificial intelligence, immortality through transferring consciousness into machine or cloned bodies, and integrating machines into human bodies. I was inspired and informed by popular cyberpunk texts that I’ve featured in my digital artefact. Cyberpunk being a product of dystopian futurism meant that I took a speculative approach to discussing the future of cyber-culture based on concepts from these texts.

“Cyberpunk married high technology with a dystopian future of corporate power and underground criminal activity, simultaneously glorifying life on computers while casting suspicion upon the promise that the technology would resolve earthly problems.”
— Geraci, 2011. There and back again: Transhumanist evangelism in science fiction and popular science.


Methodology — Digital edits featured on Instagram

I wanted to take an abstract approach to exploring these ideas, so I decided early on that I would be make visually interesting digital edits paired with music for a ‘mood-board’ effect. I chose Instagram as my primary platform, due to it being a visual-based medium with a clear feedback loop based on passive engagement. It also allowed for easy growth of engagement through the hashtag system of sharing content. Initially, I was also sharing my digital artefact on TikTok, though eventually decided that the content was not well-suited to that platform (discussed in more depth below). To create my content, I used a few different programs and resources;
— Adobe PhotoShop: arranging and creating the visuals
— Adobe Premiere Pro: adding music to transform the content into an audio/visual format
PHOTOMOSH: enhancing the content with dynamic visual effects
LingoJam: generating special fonts for the Instagram captions



Audience and Utility — Established fans of cyberpunk and futurists

The digital art created for my artefact appeals to fans of cyberpunk aesthetics. I also incorporate a variety of popular texts with this theme to draw in and engage with audiences already familiar with those works. Referencing these works also aims to increase engagement by utilising my audience’s nostalgic feelings relating to the texts.

“Reliving positive memories and beloved icons from the past feels good. Alongside hectic work schedules, unrelenting responsibilities, and more, fond memories make us smile — and that leaves us open to brand messaging. When we feel or care for something, we’re much more likely to act.”
— Friedman, 2016. Why Nostalgia Marketing Works So Well With Millennials, And How Your Brand Can Benefit.

The captions are speculative explorations of transhumanism, and will therefore appeal to futurists and philosophical thinkers. I feel as though cyberpunk being a speculative genre of fiction means that there is an overlap between fans of cyberpunk texts/cyber-culture and those interested in speculative future-thinking. I’m hoping that my captions can provoke thoughts about possible futures in relation to transhumanism and how it may affect society, be that positively (Utopian) or negatively (Dystopian).


Background Research

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick, 1968), The Shockwave Rider (John Brunner, 1975), Neuromancer (William Gibson, 1984)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995), The Matrix (The Wachowskis, 1999), Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez, 2019)

News Media
Neon Dystopia (for information about the cyberpunk genre), Forbes Magazine (for information useful to social media marketing and audience engagement)

Academic Articles
Geraci, R.M., 2011. There and back again: Transhumanist evangelism in science fiction and popular science. Implicit religion, 14(2), pp.141-172.
Hollinger, V., 1990. Cybernetic deconstructions: Cyberpunk and postmodernism. Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 23(2), pp.29-44.


Feedback Loop & Iterations

Firstly, here is an update on the posts that were featured in my digital artefact beta:

As previously observed, the edits prominently featuring media texts related to my concept received more engagement than the one that did not. Moving forward with my project, I made edits featuring popular and recognisable characters/texts.

My initial content was spread across both Instagram and TikTok, with static versions and dynamic audio/visual versions of the digital edits respectively. I was not receiving substantial engagement on TikTok with this content, and after considering this and reading feedback from my peers I decided to move the audio/visual content onto Instagram and see how much better that would perform. TikTok favours short sketch-like clips and memetic trends, which was not similar to my content

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The result has been a significant increase in initial engagement, with the audio/visual edits posted to Instagram matching and sometimes surpassing my previous three posts in engagement in a much shorter amount of time. I find that sharing my posts to the Instagram page’s story and continuously networking by engaging with similar accounts has also helped to boost my overall followers. I also feel that the quality of my posts increased significantly after switching to Adobe PhotoShop to create my edits (previously I had been using the free online editor pixlr).

“Battle Angel Alita is a fantastic vision of the future, in more ways than one. Blending cyberpunk with incredible character growth and a dash of space opera, the manga is a unique read with a level of innovation on par with Star Wars, creating an immersive world fairly innovative for its time.”
— Shadowlink, 2019. Saga Of The Killing Angel: A Review Of Gunnm.
“If memory is indistinguishable from manufactured data how can one be deemed more valuable than the other? And if those memories a person holds to be true and immutable, are no more or less authentic than fantasy, what good are they when it comes to informing a person’s identity? Oshii believes that the whole of humanity struggles with these questions in a world of advanced technology, and he uses his protagonist to explore them in a way that attaches some universality to his philosophy.”
— Rodriguez, 2017. Ghost In The Shell: The Value Of Reality And The Evolution Of Humanity.
“The rise of this subgenre is no coincidence–as the potential for humanity’s spacefaring days draws nearer, it becomes more and more obvious that we will need to rely on advancing our technology in order to colonize worlds that are not suited for our biology, whether that be artificial intelligence that can make astrophysical calculations much faster than the human brain for interstellar navigation, or genetic engineering to inoculate us from xenobiology and harsh living conditions.”
— Shadowlink, 2019. Decrypting Dystopia: How Cyberpunk Corrupted The Space Opera.

View this post on Instagram

A̴̺̬̯̟̔̌̑̈̃̃̐̂͠ͅǵ̴̗̗͇̰̰̰͖̄͝ͅé̵̡̗̮̥̮͚͉̃̒̄͋̋̕ͅn̴̜͓̠̬̊̅̉ṱ̸̢̡͚͙̻͖̗̉͗̉̒̈́́̐ ̵̰̝̗̉͊̾D̴̠̻͔̱̞͓͎͎͇̣̄̓a̶̢̮̠̤̖͔̙͉͗͆̒̈͆̌͜r̶̹͖̙̈́̀̓͐̇͘͝ķ̴̛̝͓̮͖̫͇͓̄̍̓̃̽͝ ̷̡̤̳̙͙̝͋͛͗i̷̬͙͓̥̱̲̤̮̓̾͂̓͆̔̽̏͠n̵̻̔̏͂̔̍̽͜ ̷̠͎̯̪̹͚̓̄͐̒̀͋͗͘͝p̵̜̱͊́̽̂̔̊̕̕o̶̡̦̮̝̍̀̈́̿̀́̅̚ŝ̶̯̯̩̝̲̪̖͓̂̀ͅͅi̶̢̫̤͕̺͐́́̍͊͆͛͛t̶͓̬̱̟͖̃̽̓̿̆̃͑̑͂ȋ̷̛͇͎̋̍̉̚͠o̴̩͒̑̂͒̚n̵͍̾̊̑͆͘̚ . . . There's a character in Perfect Dark called Dr Caroll, he's an AI program run through an airborne laptop computer. Although he was made by the DataDyne corporation, his intelligence allows him to develop morals and go against the wishes of his creators. One of my favourite moments from this game is when he chooses to sacrifice his own 'life' by destroying the Cetan ship and mega weapon while still inside. His actions were motivated by very human emotions, leaving us to question whether or not AI will be capable of processing complex human emotions in the future. . . . #perfectdark #joannadark #n64 #nostalgic #nostalgiawave #nostalgia #aesthetic #aestheticart #aesthetics #aestheticedits #aesthetic #scifiart #scifi #sciencefiction #cyber #cyberpunk #secretagent #cybergoth #cyberart #digitaledit #digitalart #chicago #rareware #fps #firstpersonshooter #agentdark #90s

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Reflection — measuring success and limitations

I was not entirely satisfied with my content when writing up my project beta, but after adjusting and iterating upon my digital artefact I feel very proud of the content I have produced and engagement I have procured on my Instagram account. I think that this is something I will continue to explore beyond the subject from time to time, because it’s a topic I am interested in. My biggest failure is that I did not meet my time management goals. I think if I had posted more regularly on a schedule I could have increased my audience engagement by exploring analytics and patterns from a larger sample size over a longer period of time and applying any observations made. I feel like by moving my focus to transhumanism in the near future as informed by cyber-culture I was able to explore the course concepts and take a futurists approach to my captions in a more effective way than previously before. From here onwards I would continue to make content on this trajectory and possibly explore more innovative ways to utilise Instagram’s story feature to enhance my overall engagement.

Friedman, L., 2016. Why Nostalgia Marketing Works So Well With Millennials, And How Your Brand Can Benefit. Forbes. 
Geraci, R.M., 2011. There and back again: Transhumanist evangelism in science fiction and popular science. Implicit religion, 14(2), pp.141-172.
Rodriguez, D., 2017. Ghost In The Shell: The Value Of Reality And The Evolution Of Humanity. Neon Dystopia. 
Shadowlink, 2019. Saga Of The Killing Angel: A Review Of Gunnm. Neon Dystopia.
Shadowlink, 2019. Decrypting Dystopia: How Cyberpunk Corrupted The Space Opera. Neon Dystopia

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