The literary and cultural movement known as cyberpunk began in the early 1980s when a confluence of speculative-fiction writers remapped and reinvigorated their genre—and much more. Inspired by a rapidly changing present—the beginnings of the World Wide Web; the proliferation of man/machine interfaces; the global spread of Japanese culture—these writers integrated technology, politics, literature and cultural theory to create a genre that not only predicted the future but also helped shape it.
As the Spring 2015 installment of our Geek Speaks series, the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab co-sponsored the USC Visions & Voices event Cyberpunk: Past and Future. This day-long event was held on Friday, April 24, 2015, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and brought together seminal figures of the cyberpunk movement including Rudy Rucker (the Ware Tetralogy), Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber) and Bruce Sterling (Bicycle Repairman, Taklamakan, Mirrorshades), along with figures from the worlds of film, music, technology, architecture and cultural theory, to discuss the cultural moment cyberpunk incited. The afternoon was devoted to “Cyberpunk 2.0”: small-group world-building and storytelling sessions in which USC students can collaborate with cyberpunk’s founding figures, co-developed by the USC Interactive Media and Games Division's Assistant Professor Jeff Watson and the Annenberg Innovation Lab's Technical Director and Research Fellow Geoffrey Long. The event was organized by Scott Fisher (Cinematic Arts), Henry Jenkins (Communications, Journalism and Cinematic Arts) and Howard A. Rodman (Cinematic Arts).
We are proud to present the following videos capturing the day.
Introduction & Welcome: Henry Jenkins
Panel: The Origins of Cyberpunk Culture
A conversation with Bruce Sterling (Islands in the Net), Rudy Rucker (The Ware Tetralogy), Roger Trilling (Wild Palms), and Mark Pauline (Survival Research Lab), moderated by Henry Jenkins.
Panel: The Legacy of Cyberpunk Culture
A conversation with John Jennings (The Black Kirby Project), Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia), Claire L. Evans (YACHT), Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer), and Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber), moderated by Howard Rodman.
Cyberpunk 2.0 Storytelling & Worldbuilding Workshop
Undergraduate and graduate students teamed up with writers, designers, scholars and technologists to imagine storyworlds that update cyberpunk themes to reflect and confront how the world has changed since the 1980s. Led by Jeff Watson (School of Cinematic Arts) and Geoffrey Long (Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism), with assistance from Stacey Robinson (The Black Kirby Project).
Technologies of Cyberpunk
An interpretive chronology of film and TV design fictions that engage the increasingly permeable membrane between computer intelligence and human minds and bodies, from the cybernetic, human-computer interfaces of the 1950s to contemporary visions of fully hybrid states of post-humanity. Curated and assembled by Steve Anderson.
Closing Rant by Bruce Sterling