Wednesday, March 24, 2010
What is Steampunk you ask? Different people have different opinions on what it really is. Here are some takes on it:
Steampunk simply embodies a time and a place. The time... the late 19th century. The place... a steam powered world, where air travel by fantastical dirigibles is as common as traveling by train or boat (or submarine). A place where national interests are vastly different than our own version of history. A place where the elegant and refined are as likely to get pulled into a grand adventure, as the workers, ruffians, and lower classes. A place where the idea of space travel is not so far fetched. A place where lost civilizations are found and lost again. A place where anything is possible, and science can be twisted to meet ones own ends. That to me is the essence of Steampunk. It can have political overtones and commentary, or it can be straight escapist fiction. Either way, if it meets these criteria. It is Steampunk.
-Joshua A. Pfeiffer a.k.a. Vernian Process
The word Steampunk refers to a particular genre, aesthetic and even a reality that "might have been". For some people, it's an evolved fantasy/ reality that might have been had internal combustion engines never taken hold or even been invented. Steampunk for me is a reality that "aims to be rather than to seem". Indeed, it's an aesthetic that is heavily versed in a climate of invention and innovation. The construction and methods of operation, the kinetics of the piece are exposed and on the surface, as opposed to boxed in and hidden behind a false casing. The wonderful thing about a steam engine is that you can follow the path of power generation and function beginning with the fire box and boiler, follow the plumbing, valves, gauges, gears, d-valves, pistons, eccentric shafts, and fly-wheels all the way from the source of power to the final outcome of kinetic potential.
Within this architectural aesthetic, there are no false walls, drop ceilings, prefab decorative elements or the mundane presence of modern conveniences. Theatre is wonderful, but theatre is false in its constructions. There is nothing false or "out of the box" when talking about the Steampunk aesthetic. You'll find that there is an incredible compliment between a variety of disparate materials that can usually be found in any Steampunk conceived of device... wood, brass, rivets, gears, lenses, cast iron, etc... Steampunk is an honour to an era when people thought big, and worked hard to make things that last. It is not like the disposable culture of commodity that we have today. Care, artisanship and craftsmanship was put into everything that was created.
-Sean Orlando Kineticsteamworks.org
Its roots laying in a Victorian/ Edwardian industrial aesthetic with a ‘do it yourself’ ethos. It is one of eclectic design and influence, flexible and adaptable. Perhaps this is why so many are adopting it as their own?
The genre shouts out for those who take part to be creative, to become artisans. This ethos manifests itself whole heartedly in its fashion, as eclectic as the genre, so are the clothes. Body modification in the forms of tattoos and piercings, the creation of hand made goggles, belt buckles and jewellery, to produce items from found, 2nd hand or reclaimed objects that will become more than a sum of their parts. Victoriana and the Edwardian are blended with a non exclusive mix of Goth, Cyber and Punk. Not limited to the wear of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the combination of Cyber hair pieces, gas masks and bondage clothing reflect it’s whimsical and some times edgy, rebellious nature. Aside from this a more fanciful and less everyday approach comes from the Cosplay community, focusing on costume rather than fashion with individuals developing personas alongside their outfits.
Steampunk is set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
(All I know is I find the genre facinating because of all the mixed elements in it. It being a subculture makes it that much cooler to me. That it's based on science fiction, 19th century Victorian era where things were powered by steam with a fantasy twist to it, what's not to like. For a person like me that likes fantasy this is a new thing to spark my interest. Can you imagine a world that could have been had internal combustion engines never taken hold or even been invented? Don't get me wrong I love all modern conveniences but there is something about this Steampunk stuff that is calling to me to come explore and create! If you look around you will see that Steampunk is everywhere!)
Here is a great article/blog on more Steampunk! http://blog.dawnsrise.com/2010/01/what-is-steampunk.html