MARIANNE Trench’s documentary film sketches a broad overview of the various literary, cultural, technological and philosophical strands that gone into making Cyberpunk one of the most potent and rapidly evolving subcultures of the late 20th Century.
Cyberpunk originated in the novels of William Gibson, “Neuromancer”, “Count Zero”, “Mona Lisa Overdrive” and “Burning Chrome”, where computer hackers break into secure databases of powerful transnational corporations to liberate data which they trade in the black market. These “console-cowboys” jack into Cyberspace, a computer-generated electronic illusion that links the brain to a global data network, simulating high-tech psychedelic visions of imaginary landscapes where guerilla raids are carried out for kicks and profit. Interviews with Timothy Leary, Vernon Reid, assorted computer hackers and virtual reality hardware/software designers are interspersed with some excellent animation footage by Process Animation and Akira’s conceptualizer Katsuhrio Otomo set to the Cyberpunk sounds of Severed Heads, Mission, Skinny Puppy. The information levels are solid and experts speculation on future developments and prosthetic surgery, emerging computer-technologies, exquisitely potent new “smart” drugs are fascinating. The only sore point is the shape of a rather tawdry group of quasi-punkish fops, sipping Heinekens in a New York lounge. All up a good instruction to this deliciously subversive movement and definitely a film that deserves a sequel as soon as possible.