The Art of Cyberpunk: High Tech Low Life

The cyberpunk genre was around for several decades. At the same time, it remains one of the most elusive and hard to describe forms of media. What is cyberpunk exactly? Fathers-founders give a short but sharp description – high tech, low life.

This term implies the advanced development of technologies beyond imagination. At the same time, cyberpunk reflects social crises and an inability for people to get benefits from the progress. Let us dive into this description and explore the highs and lows of the cyberpunk genre.


Cyberpunk started with literature. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Phillip Dick, “Neuromancer”; Mona Lisa: Overdrive by William Gibson. These novels became the foundation of the cyberpunk genre. We can say that the best paper writing service from PaperWriter can serve as a living example of cyberpunk in the modern-day corporate culture. There are many academic help services, which were purely fantastic a few decades ago, but now have become a reality.

The novels describe a futuristic future, where people live in a highly-advanced, technological society. At the same time, there are crises of self-identity, human rights security, and privacy. Technologies that should have made people’s lives easier created even more harsh conditions for human existence.

 These motives are the cornerstone of future cyberpunk pieces of art. Literature, movies, and animation will explore, deconstruct, and reinterpret these core cyberpunk ideas.

The main characters of cyberpunk stories are hackers, super-soldiers, or artificial intelligence, who try to find their place in the world. Despite the enhancements, these characters are relatable and naturalistic. You believe in their existence.


Blade Runner by Ridley Scott and Johnny Mnemonic Robert Longo established the visual style of cyberpunk. Bleak, dystopian future, high skyscrapers, and constant dusk became inseparable attributes of any cyberpunk movie.

Most of the cyberpunk cinema is an adaptation of the primary literature source. In these terms, the Matrix stands out as an original piece of cyberpunk art. Reimagining modern city life as a crafted illusion was revolutionary back in the time.

Cinema cyberpunk followed the literary tropes and granted visual representation of the familiar stories. However, the genre was not set in stone by a single source. There were attempts to push boundaries even further.


Eastern animation contributed to the cyberpunk genre. One of the most prominent examples was the movie “Ghost in the Shell”. It combined contemplation about human nature with dynamic action. Besides, the Matrix received its animation adaptation as well. The collection of short stories “Animatrix” expanded the world of the Matrix and gave it a distinct visual representation.

The series “Ergo Proxy” became the quintessence of animated cyberpunk. It collected all previously discussed topics within the genre and deconstructed them.

Pieces of animation worthy of mentioning in the list:

  • Megazone
  • Akira
  • Cyber City Oedo
  • Macross Plus

These pieces of animation depict different stages of visual cyberpunk development. We can trace cyberpunk trends’ evolution through these titles. All the enlisted entries represent the high-tech, low-life principles.

Still, they do not limit the cyberpunk genre. There are examples of cyberpunk in a space setting or even cyberpunk without drastic futuristic elements. Still, these examples belong to the genre.

Analysis of Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk is a genre hard to define. Commonly, critics put cyberpunk in a sci-fi niche. Tales of the future and grim prognosis of what dangers technologies can bring to people. Yet, cyberpunk can become contingent and step beyond even soft sci-fi frames.

 Besides, sci-fi tries to predict the future and analyze possibilities for humanity’s development. The sci-fi prism makes cyberpunk obsolete today. We already have smart-assistants, advanced medical technologies, and the overwhelming presence of corporations in our everyday life.

Fathers-founders of cyberpunk claimed that they were creating neo-noir. From this perspective, cyberpunk becomes more intricate and captivating. Noir characters stand against all odds, corrupt world, and injustice.

Yet, the surroundings of the classic noir protagonists are irrelevant. At the same time, hackers share the same archetype as noir detectives of the past. The aim of cyberpunk is not to envision the future but make the present more romantic and appealing. Cyberpunk gives usual things a romantic flair.

Programmers, city landscapes, and corporations become the background for fantastic adventures. From this perspective, corporations become tyrants in high towers, which should be overthrown.

Hackers and rouges become modern heroes. They protect common people from social threats and insecurities. Artificial intelligence and programs gain more humane features than humans. As a result, a good cyberpunk piece of art creates a modern fairytale. It has obvious villains and prominent heroes with which we can associate ourselves. Cyberpunk may have elements of sci-fi.

For example, space exploration or advanced cybernetics to enhance the experience. Yet, the core of cyberpunk is neo-noir stories.

Future of Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk goes through an identity crisis. The genre tries to find new topics for discussion and new ways of their representation. At the current moment, all the relevant themes went through the cyberpunk prism.

We live in a society full of advanced technologies and many social crises. From this point, cyberpunk goes in the niche of retrofuturism. Video games became a part of cyberpunk art as well. Interactivity becomes another dimension of cyberpunk art.

In combination with literary stories and appealing visual aesthetics, it creates a new experience. Cyberpunk video games follow the same tropes as their predecessors. Yet, they allow players to make meaningful decisions within cyberpunk stories. Right now, cyberpunk has to reimagine itself.

Finding a new vector is a crucial task for the genre and new cyberpunk authors. Cyberpunk may create a mix of sci-fi elements and deep character development. For example, Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve is a prominent example of new-wave cyberpunk.

Final Words

Cyberpunk is a unique and modern piece of art. It has many installments and takes different shapes. You can explore cyberpunk through different media and topics and always find something relatable. Cyberpunk inspires creators and artists to embed its elements in other genres and pieces of art. As a result, we have a never-ending inspiration about our present-day and ways to cope with modern crises that we face.