Aesthetic preferences and Cyber Punk

2019-12-31 @Arts

We appeal to particular aesthetic preferences. A visual, a concept, a particular environment may evoke an emotional thumbs-up for one person, a thumbs-down for another.

For example, the following may trigger drastically varying signals among individuals: a bakery of chocolate pastries and sweet infusions, a glass of whiskey, pouring rainfall, a pure espresso, a smart phone, or an analog film camera.

The same applies to environments: the desert, dunes, rain forest, jungle, tundra, empty plains, forest, dismantled constructions, ruins, isolated villages, empty storefronts, snow glaciers, sleet, winter storms, rust, moss, sewage, mist, the old west, the Gothic, mud, fog, sea voyages, caravans.

I have a soft spot for a classic Cyberpunk setting. Whenever asked to describe it, I tend to associate imagery from among the following: neon advertising ambitiously spread across three dimensions; pervasive installations of virtual, augmented, assistive, biometric, and sensor-based technology; robotisation; increased use of flying vehicles; the dismantled and lying in ruins; intense climates; pollution; sinister, harsh, marginalized; crude constructions of vertically dispersed micro lodgings; cramped, overpopulated, imposing; hacked-together; autonomous transport; loudspeaker advertisements; and naturally, a heavily synthesized soundtrack.

Some of the above may sound bleak. Some aligns with the reality of much contemporary living.

Many neighborhoods of Brazilian cities already fit the category. Barring the absence of certain Sci-fi innovation, the ambience exhibits the broken down, marginalized, yet technologically augmented aspect, the latter easily facilitated by the mere aspect of pervasive smart phone usage. The device has become inseparable from the individual.

How about the produce vehicles that make daily rounds throughout the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or the less established neighborhoods, screaming the prices of eggs, garlic and apples through the megaphone loud enough for two adjoining neighborhoods? Is the concept drastically different in character from the loudspeaker installations announcing off-world colony living a la Blade Runner motion picture?

On my last visit to San Francisco two years ago, I’d encountered operator-less eateries. The concept presents a small room of nothing but a computerized order entry terminal and a wall full of glass-framed numbered lockers.

One of these inevitably dispenses the order corresponding to your receipt in a plastic box. This variety of food service must have by now spread to other cities, packaged as cutting-edge innovation.

To me it feels plain Cyberpunk. I’m skeptical in the frightening degree of opaqueness for this particular industry, considering the enormous impact nutrition renders on our overall well being. And despite my inclination for solitary meals, I still associate gastronomy with a kitchen I can at least eye, or a human garçon I can engage in silly dialogue.

The idea of micro-apartments is likewise nothing new. On several occasions I’ve occupied hermit holes that make the description of Rodion Raskolnikov’s little dwelling resemble the Winter Palace.

I don’t see anything unnecessarily unpleasant in a window-less room barely spacious enough to house a small mattress and take two small steps. Or be it a capsule hotel for all I care.

Not only that, I find the setting quiet facilitating for rest and replenishment. I’ve had several occasions to stay in such lodgings in several Asian countries, and provided some public space to move, exercise, glance through some window, and maintain a degree of emotional isolation, I associate no ills with such an eventuality.

The stereotypical Cyberpunk, although with a dosage of splendor in appearance, presents economic, social, and environmental hardships across the board. Consequently, the presence of these hardships makes the easily accessible escape mechanisms highly seductive.

In Sci-fi that may entail Virtual Reality chambers or hibernation inducers. In reality that involves narcotics, sweets, and hours of daily cheap content consumption. I may as well classify all the above as narcotics.

Personally, I prefer to address internal issues, rather than circumvent by means of the aforementioned.

I prefer the visually challenging and that which demands greater effort to appreciate far more than the fully accommodating, crystal clean, state-of-the-art presentable; to mindfully contemplate, rather than suspend and escape; to scale down, maintain a small footprint, ration, rather than expand and scatter.

Furthermore, I prefer stark contrasts: the broken, yet utilitarian; the grotesque, yet appealing; the physically disturbing, yet emotionally peaceful; scarce in one sense, abundant in another; crowds, noise, mayhem, faced with an unperturbed demeanor and self-reliance; the exercise of the inner faculty over external innovation.

It feels more authentic, with an element of beauty mixed with melancholia. It triggers aesthetic appeal.

Questions, comments? Connect.