Fictive-friction: cyberpunk reprised

Coley, Rob, Lockwood, Dean and Micali, Alberto (2014) Fictive-friction: cyberpunk reprised. In: Friction: An interdisciplinary conference on technology and resistance, 8-9 May, 2014, University of Nottingham.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper deals with the friction between fiction and technology, specifically the accelerationist energies of eighties cyberpunk as an instance of fiction as ‘low theory’ (Wark), theory which plays in the margins, untimely and speculative. Cyberpunk brushed the emergent technocapitalist control society against the grain, serving the fabulatory function of a visionary falsification of Californian ideology. It explored the condition of the technological nonconscious, the invasiveness of the ubiquitous bodily implant. In this, it elaborated the lessons of luminaries, Ballard and Burroughs. Ballard’s ‘novel’, The Atrocity Exhibition, imagined the erotic, visceral and inner devoured by a voracious mediasphere, rendering humans as affectless drifting mannequins. His protagonist(s) took flight to schizophrenia, extracting himself from media fictions of all kinds through the manipulation of events as hallucinations of another reality. Burroughs, for his part, described a frictionless pharmacological mode of control jacked directly into the nervous system, an addictive fabulatory power maintained through a general dependency on reality-producing patterns. In the wake of these nightmare fictions, the cyberpunk of Gibson and others gave us the hacker, a probe-head for non-capitalist, non-human futures. Today, however, it seems all too evident that technocapitalism has pre-empted such strategies with probe-heads of its own. Some commentators call for the persistence of the negative against a compromised accelerationism. But maybe we don’t need to jettison cyberpunk and the hacker. Instead, ‘after the future’, cyberpunk might be employed in media-archaeological fashion to excavate the historical lines between hacking and hacktivism, generating perceptual fissures in the continuity of the present. It is through the vigilance of such friction-fiction that we might reverse-engineer the pre-emptive fabulations of capital; not now through processes of acceleration but on the basis of a collective circuit breaker, an ethical practice that remains non-moral but rejects the line of death. We posit the hacker as excommunicant, sounding the depths of dark vectors.

Keywords:cyberpunk, media studies, Autonomia
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:13912
Deposited On:09 May 2014 16:34

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