Monday, September 28, 2009

Steampunk: Romantic Geeks Delight









In my teens, I never knew just what my part was in the scheme of things, but I felt like I was from a different time. I had Victorian stiletto boots, lacy anklets, high-necked lacy blouses, and I hid from the sunlight like a vampire. I was a Victorian Goth in the late 70s when it wasn’t “in” yet. I was most excited about the old west Victorian era garments and gadgets like the TV show “The Wild Wild West.” I was fascinated with the gadgetry of the steam-engine era and stopped in every antique store to check them out. My heroes were H.G. Wells and his time machine and Jules Verne and his submarine archetype. I didn’t know it then, but 30 years later a movement would happen that would define the “look” I wanted to achieve.

Steampunk is described by Jake von Slatt, a designer in Bostom and the proprietor of Steampunk Workshop this way, `To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance,' That definition is loose enough to accommodate a stew of influences, including the streamlined retro-futurism of Flash Gordon and Japanese animation with its goggle-wearing hackers, the postapocalyptic scavenger style of “Mad Max,” and vaudeville, burlesque and the structured gentility of the Victorian age. In aggregate, steampunk is a trend that is rapidly outgrowing niche status.”

Wikipedia does a fair job of explaining this trend. “Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often 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. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine); these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality.

I’ve never been so excited about a movement before. Goth came in as I was ending high school and punk was at its peak, but neither suited me. I wasn’t morbid above life, I was bubbly (even though I love all things spooky) and I wasn’t angry or tough or an anarchist. I was very feminine and very romantic and yet adored abandoned sites and junkyards. That was a combination that made me see myself as a total spaz, but apparently I’m not the only one who likes the romance of the steam engine era and its crude and ornate technology. I’ve never liked the icy glass and chrome modern type of SciFi movies, but give me one that involves reuse of old technology by a post-apocalyptic group and I’m thrilled.

I hope the movement stays around longer, but if it doesn’t, it won’t matter. I’ll always be Steampunk in my heart.

10 comments:

  1. You must have updated just as I was leaving the comment below-I think this era of history is interesting to many people -I love looking at all of the old "classy" things from that era-I never realized there was a sub-culture devoted to it until Michael at Gosporn mentioned it about a year ago- I read a book called "The Difference Engine" a fictional account of what would have happened had the "computer" age arrived in the Victorian era-at least if I remember correctly-think it was the early 90s I read it-One thing I do get tired of living in the late 20th and 21st centuries is that things become outdated as soon as they hit the shelves-I think we are moving too fast without the wisdom to back up our progress. Great article and thoughts as always Autumnforest-I hope you are having a beautiful week!!

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  2. Dev;
    As always, my insightful friend. You're right--the concept was what if we gained our technology when things were generated by steam. I've always loved Davinci's drawings and HG Wells concepts and Jules Verne's fantasies. It was as if man had the idea for technology of the future, but only had the materials of his time, i.e. metals/wood but no plastics. I love a world without plastic. I DESPISE THE STUFF! Hope your week goes well. I had an unexpected day off and ended up working on the props for the Halloween party in my yard--looking good. I almost was tempted to switch the theme to steampunk instead of post-apocalyptic, but decided they go together.

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  3. me likey steampunk. i was into punk in my late teens and twenties, but i like this better.
    i too loved everything victorian and mad max was one of my favorites. i could recite most of the movie's dialogue from memory since i watched it so much :0
    this genre would have fit a bit better.

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  4. I think Warehouse 13 has a steampunkish feel to it.

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  5. Sandra;
    You're into the Mad Max thing too, huh? I watched it a few times while I was getting the planning done for my post-apocalyptic halloween party. I hope to get more elements into it that feel like the movie. So far it's more cemetery than apocalyptic cemetery. I think I'm going to add some steampunk feel to it, as well. Won't be hard since hubby is a gadget man and a packrat.

    Jeff;
    You're right. I noticed that about the show too. I have to admit, I don't really like the show, but I really like the gadgets!

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  6. I love it too! Have you watched Warehouse 13 on SyFy channel? The show isn't the greatest, but the gadgets are fun. And, check out this blog...it's wonderful and if you visit her tatting blog you will see some of the most wonderful creations...

    http://totusmelswunderkammer.blogspot.com/

    Referring to you post on my blog...Brittany's are wonderful dogs...mine is so lovable. I'm in Tempe now (I was in Queen Creek ...had the indian pottery in my backyard).

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  7. I wasn't sure if you thinking about moving to Tempe or if you actually did it. I'm hoping the new place is nice and quiet. I have to admit, I wouldn't want to be in Queen Creek or the oldest part of Mesa. Yikes! Thanks for telling me about that blog--I'm following now--awesome!

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  8. Steampunk? There's a name for it? AWESOME! I've heard that, but never understood what it was. And YES, YES, YES! I like all the same styles you were talking about...and Wild Wild West was a FAVE show! We have one collection of DVDs. How awesome. Do you ever get the Pyramid Collection catalog? I LOVE some of the clothes and jewelry in there...but can't afford most of it. But it's THIS! So glad there's a name to call it by. THANKS for the education!

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  9. Autumn! You're such a prolific web logger, why, I'm losing altitude & need to catch up! LOL! One of theeeee most exhilarating movies yet made to titillate any Steampunk amongst us, I daresay, was committed to film in 1958! Yes, when I was having my first can of Rheingold Extra Dry lager beer @ the tender age of two (!), the Czech visionary filmmaker, Karel Zeman, beautifully executed THIS EXTRAORDINARY FILM, now, I believe, as with nearly everything, available on DVD.

    Happy viewing, all,
    Anadæ Effro (•8-D}

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  10. Anadæ;
    I definitely must check that out! Sounds exciting. I hope all is going well with you. I'll be probably posting my son's newest vidoe taken at the abandoned trailer park today on my blog. Hope you enjoy it.

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