Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is Steampunk?

Wikipedia defines Steampunk as:
"a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy."
You'll notice it's vague on aesthetics. And I like it that way, so I'm not going to add rules and regulations here. But I do want to talk about my personal inspiration and expression.

Alternate Reality Steam Worlds

In literature, Steampunk goes back to the late 1800's, inspired by the glory days of the steam engine. Think, HG Wells' The Time Machine, Jules Verne's A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, or Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. And more recently in film, Sherlock Holmes, The Prestige, Wild Wild West, Van Helsing and others.

I discovered Steampunk myself through a friend, then I explored more through blogs and on my favourite art community, deviantART.

To me, the genre celebrates steam, early electricity, and the beginnings of modern industry, enhanced by science fiction. During a 2009 trip to the UK, I visited the Manchester Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI).

Browsing through the halls, it was easy to see why that machinery captivates so completely. Although not generally considered to be Steampunk, I enjoy retro computer imagery as well (see the last photo).

MOSI: Rail

Steam engine

MOSI: Power Hall

Steam machine

MOSI: The Baby

Replica of a computer from 1948

Neo-Victorian Industrial Style

Here are a few of my personal creations, inspired by some of the gear, steam, frills, and lace imagery I love. What's even better is that these pieces all feature recycled parts!

Steampunk Monocle Locket

45 Squared Pocket Watch Pendant

Airship Control Panel Pendant