Tai Kwun Contemporary today announces a new exhibition: Phantom Plane, Cyberpunk in the Year of the Future. Inspired by 2019—the year of the future in iconic cyberpunk films like Blade Runner and Akira—the exhibition will examine how the aesthetics of cyberpunk have bled into contemporary art and visual culture, and explore how cyberpunk fictions have become our reality. Co-presented with the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York, and curated by Lauren Cornell, Dawn Chan, Xue Tan, Tobias Berger, with Jeppe Ugelvig, assistant curator, the exhibition runs from 5 October 2019 to 4 January 2020.
In cyberpunk, a science fiction genre, futures dominated by advanced technologies often appear hand in hand with sprawling urban backdrops, a radically transformed social order, and a cast of characters pursuing their own stories at the margins of society. First gaining momentum in the 1980s, the genre has continued to evoke meaning and interest in audiences through a broad range of artistic mediums, whether in films like Blade Runner and The Matrix, manga and anime such as Ghost in the Shell, or the novels of Philip K. Dick.
Phantom Plane, Cyberpunk in the Year of the Future centres around what the influential science fiction author William Gibson called the 'meta-city'—a sprawling urban space just as virtual as it is real. Whether through spectacular panoramas of virtual mega cities, or fleeting snapshots of their alluring underworlds and dissonant denizens, the exhibition looks at life in the meta-city and how the cyber metropolis has transformed from a fantastic metaphor for life in the future into an inescapable, looping present.
The works of art are widely varied, comprising digital videos, mixed-media pieces, three-dimensional paintings, sculptural works, video, holographic installation, photography, prints and more. Artists hail from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Korea, Australia, Canada, the United States, Indonesia, Japan and beyond, each bringing a unique perspective on the idea of cyberpunk. Some artists look at the urban skyline from afar, others get up-close to its people, machines and practices, while yet others question the appearance of the Asian metropolis in science fiction narratives.
In their curatorial statement on the exhibition, the curators commented, 'Inspired by 2019—the year that many iconic cyberpunk futures were set or scheduled to arrive—this exhibition considers the hold that cyberpunk retains on our collective imagination. Whether through spectacular panoramas of virtual mega cities, buildings or urban surfaces, or through more affective or psychological depictions of life within, the exhibition questions the ways in which the metropolis of cyberpunk has transformed from a fantastic metaphor for life in the future into an inescapable, looping present.'
Co-presented by Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College