Yesterday, I came across a tweet from Carl Zha (okay, technically it’s from his auntie) that included a video clip of evening skyline above the city of Chongqing in southwestern China. There is a cyberpunk quality to the city that enthralled me. I felt as if Chongqing was plucked from the pages of William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Below the tweet, Zha also linked to the following video which goes even further, giving the viewer a close-up view of the city which only further cemented my opinion, check it out below.
The slick soundtrack and artistic jump-cuts only add a level of depth that expands the ultra-cool visuals of a city of the future. For a Westerner, it’s almost hard to imagine Chongquing as a real place. Our own cities are dull by comparison. This is the stuff of anime and Hollywood blockbusters, not reality.
It’s easy to become absorbed in the sleek aesthetic and forget that the cyberpunk genre was meant to serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unregulated capitalism, economic inequality, and the rampant abuse of technology. Warnings we’ve mostly ignored. I hesitate to prognosticate on the ramifications we’ll face. As Gibson once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
At least Chongquing looks cool.