Aesthetic Explorations: A Future of Neon and Chrome, Cyberpunk

Title Image:

“Tears in The Rain” by Daniel Liang


“Cyberpunk” is a genre of science fiction that appears in books, movies, and even tabletop games in popular culture. It usually depicts a not-so-distant future for humanity wrought with powerful soulless corporations, questionable morals, and futuristic technologies like advanced cybernetics and artificial intelligence. Cyberpunk media often depicts the difficulties of like in a corporate dystopian future and tries to highlight the great disparity in wealth of the poor and the rich.

“Slum 2” by Tom Hisbergue

Most cyberpunk media uses bright and dramatic colors contrasted with dark scenes like nighttime city landscapes with neon purple and orange lights to illuminate the streets. To enhance this use of color, cyberpunk often involve rain or water to reflect the bright lights around the scene.

“上” by はやぴ

Thematically, scenes of illegal activities, slum living, or outlandish personal styles often find their way into cyberpunk media. These scenes depict outsiders and fill the “punk” side of cyberpunk. Cyberpunk books and games like William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” or Catalyst Labs’ “Shadowrun” play heavily on this aspect of cyberpunk focusing on main characters stealing from huge corporations or killing other denizens of the cyberpunk underground just to make money.

“Lost Connection” by Daniel Liang

The “cyber” in cyberpunk refers to the advanced technology prevalent in cyberpunk media. Often time the technology in a cyberpunk setting is inspired by emergent technologies in the modern day like drones and artificial intelligence. Common in most cyberpunk imagery is cybernetics, mechanical modifications to the human form like mechanical limbs or augmented eyes. There are heavy underlying themes of trans-humanism in cyberpunk media that play on augmentations like these and compare them to the frailty of the natural human form.


Untitled by Vonschlippe

Ultimately, cyberpunk is an excellent aesthetic for art weather you are just trying to paint dramatic science fiction scenes or highlight issues with corporate greed and trans-humanism in the modern political landscape.


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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hailee Pritchard
    January 28, 2020 11:05 am

    Hey Patrick!
    I had never heard of this aesthetic before, and I think it is so interesting and thought provoking. I have never been a fan of cyber punk, but this vision of the future is so cool and also scary. I think technology has created a new “ideal” for what life is, and these images show both the good and bad in those. Super cool!!

  • Peter Armstrong
    January 27, 2020 3:28 pm

    I never knew what this aesthetic was called until I read this. I always found this style both really cool and distressing at the same time. I think this is because I’m a big fan of SciFi but that the cyber punk vision of the future is not necessarily a pretty one. Thanks for exploring this! It’s certainly both beautiful and disturbing at the same time!


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