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Punk Subcultures Used the Internet for Collective Good. Now, an NFT Project Called ‘CryptoPunk’ Undermines This Legacy

At one point in the recent rise of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, the biggest protagonists of the “Web3,” it was hailed as the most important project in the world of NFTs, but it was still on the move. It goes by the name “CryptoPunk”. This sounds like an underground movement that seems to be beckoning disruptors among those of us who can afford to participate. borrowed from, but not their spirit at all.

By the 1990s, being physically positioned around militarized spaces became unacceptable for activists, and activists began organizing online. Then the nascent Internet was ripe for a “growing wave of cyber civil disobedience.” The intersection of cyberpunk and ethical hacking represents an ideology that uses the internet as a battlefield to resist state power and inequality.

Punk Jin’s 1999 issue punk planet He said about hacktivism:

Sexy, fearless, and defiant against the destructive, soulless grain of corporate capitalism. Punk is resistance – and it always should have been.

Cyberpunk responded to fears about cyberspace, technology, and the changing role of corporations in government.A work of dystopian fiction – like blade runner, matrix, Others who explored the meaning of occupying the marginal space between virtual and reality were the heirs of cyberpunk. I expected a collapse. “Cyberpunk escaped from a literary genre into a cultural reality,” writes RUSirius. Mondo 2000: New Edge User Guide.


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Now we have CryptoPunk. It’s a floating term in cyberspace that’s as evocative, radical, and innovative as cyberpunk itself. However, it’s not as thoughtful or destructive as it sounds. “A status symbol, a piece of internet history and an asset of unspeakable value, CryptoPunks may be the most important NFT project in existence.”

The CryptoPunk project is a collection of pixelated images that appear to have unique attributes “including hats, pipes, necklaces, earrings, eyepatch, etc.”

Aside from the decidedly exaggerated and hollow value of these images, the way CryptoPunk is marketed appropriates a subculture it doesn’t represent. “CryptoPunks is a combination of art, technology, absurdity and social experimentation, similar to the radical tokenization methods used by artists like Andy Warhol,” declares one news article.

But it’s very difficult to argue that the NFT artwork destined for millions of people in cyberspace is the future of punk technology that the original cyberpunk envisioned. By definition, NFTs are tokens intended to be owned exclusively. They are private storehouses of value that act as financial leverage for those at the top of the financial food chain, the antithesis of the punk spirit.

CryptoPunk, like most other subcultures, speaks to how cyberpunk today is reduced to exist as a mere aesthetic that lives independently of its actual roots. The cyberpunk vibe is disco-alien glamor, metallic sheen, sophisticated chic, and graces the covers of fashion magazines and high-end his fashion catalogs. In other words, cyberpunk’s legacy, rooted in the social justice movement, is now reduced to the commodification of aesthetics. This is in line with the status quo, rather than destroying it.

“The classic subculture ‘died’ when it became the object of social inspection and nostalgia, and became susceptible to commodification. I was aware long ago of the fact that it was a convenient means of selling in the sun,” says scholar Dylan Clarke.


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Now, jewelry company Tiffany & Co. has announced plans to sell CryptoPunk-inspired diamond pendants for 30 ETH (approximately US$50,000) each. That completes our cyberpunk beautification. A luxury jewelry brand employs cyberpunk to trade authentic pendants only to those who already “own” CryptoPunk online. As if this wasn’t enough, a brand that manufactures fine jewelery with the name “punk” in it has caused a huge boom in the CryptoPunk trade, making punk less of a true movement and more of a nonsensical materialistic. transformed it into a stylish fashion statement.

CryptoPunk therefore stands for everything cyberpunk has opposed.

“Classic cyberpunk characters generally live in a dystopian future where everyday life is affected by rapid technological change, the ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modifications of the human body. They were alienated, marginalized, lonely people who lived on the fringes of society,” writes the science fiction writer.Lawrence Person A note towards a post-cyberpunk manifesto.

Today, CryptoPunk characters live in high glass towers of society, shaping that society rather than being victims of it, using technology in ways that extend their own financial capital, power, and influence. the people who use it.

The Internet has become such an exciting medium because it’s fast, connects people, and provides a collective space. The common thread that underlies the punkiness of the internet has been the ability to protect solidarity and keep common resources, knowledge and causes under a digital roof. Cryptopunk is the very antithesis of the commons, “a hypermasculine psyche that guides the already masculine logic of technology: the commons (in this case the digital commons) simply owns wealth without requiring any effort.” The idea that it exists to preserve.” Swaddle pointed out earlier.

By appropriating the language of punk, CryptoPunk disguises a status quo-affirming ideology as subversive and fashionable, changing the meaning of punk itself. By superimposing what it means to be a punk with expensive digital goods traded in digital currency, CryptoPunk eliminates many of the possibilities of cyberspace freedom that punks opened up.

“…on the one hand, it’s a dropout culture dedicated to pursuing the dream of freedom through the right technology. Cyberpunk, like all other subcultures before it, was reabsorbed into the mainstream,” writes scholar Mackenzie Work.

In other words, cyberpunk is dead. All that’s left is the aesthetic, a financial product that’s essentially antithetical to punk’s ideology, allowing you to wear it as long as it sells.

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