Continuation of Steampunk Discussion (#2)

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Time and again, people at art shows ask about Steampunk. Its appeal seems to be growing, leaking into mainstream awareness.  For instance, on October 30, 2011, “Luann,” a syndicated Sunday comic in the U.S featured the Steampunk ae

Art Obscura

Does anyone know the artist?

sthetic (without actually naming it).  In the comic, three young people are dre

ssed to see Steampowered Giraffe, a well-known band in Steampunk circles.  Even more amazing (alarming?), Justin Bieber is going Steampunkfor his holiday video.  You can’t get much more mainstream than that.

In a recent post, I gave the standard overview of Steampunk, explaining the fusion of neo-Victoriana and science fiction in fashion and literature.  However, clock gears, mad scientists, and top hats are only whimsical icons of the genre.  What underlies the attraction to this era, besides another revival fad?  In a recent interview, I tried to dig down deep to the potential motivators for interest in the Steampunk genre and aesthetic that I’d like to expand on here.

Steampunk is a direct, psychological response to our world today. As with most art, fashion, and literature movements, the underpinnings upon which an aesthetic grows are founded in less tangible sociological forces. Self-expression and individuality are important in any fringe fashion or culture, but why the throwback to an earlier time not normally thought of for their promotion of individuality?

I contend that the fusion of elements of the Victorian and Edwardian eras with science fiction that formed the Steampunk movement are strongly founded on a sense of wonder, a love of exploration, and a deeply rooted desire for personal adornment, admixed with a need to slow the pace of daily life.

In coming blog posts I’ll explore each of these motivators.  I hope you’ll read along.

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