Thursday, October 29, 2009

increasing awareness

I just came across this excellent article written by Ruth La Ferla of The New York Times on the subculture known as steampunk. I know my new readers may not necessarily understand what I am saying when I talk about steampunk. Since I mention it quite a lot, you can either go to my previous post about it or check out this article to perhaps get an inkling of what I am talking about.

This article pretty much covers a great deal of my understanding of steampunk. As La Ferle says:

Devotees of the culture read Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, as well as more recent speculative fiction by William Gibson, James P. Blaylock and Paul Di Filippo, the author of “The Steampunk Trilogy,” the historical science fiction novellas that lent the culture its name. They watch films like “The City of Lost Children” (with costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier), “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Brazil,” Terry Gilliam’s dystopian fantasy satirizing the modern industrial age; and they listen to melodeons and Gypsy strings mixed with industrial goth.

They build lumbering contraptions like the steampunk treehouse, a rusted-out 40-foot sculpture assembled last year at the Burning Man festival in Nevada and unveiled last month at the Coachella music festival in Southern California. They trawl eBay for saw-tooth cogs and watch parts to dress up their Macs and headsets, then show off their inventions to kindred spirits on the Web.

The focus on the fashions is especially interesting to me, as someone who likes to experiment with clothing or just dream up what characters in 19th century settings may possibly wear:

And, in keeping with the make-it-yourself ethos of punk, they assemble their own fashions, an adventurous pastiche of neo-Victorian, Edwardian and military style accented with sometimes crudely mechanized accouterments like brass goggles and wings made from pulleys, harnesses and clockwork pendants, to say nothing of the odd ray gun dangling at the hip. Steampunk style is corseted, built on a scaffolding of bustles, crinolines and parasols and high-arced sleeves not unlike those favored by the movement’s designer idols: Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and, yes, even Ralph Lauren.
Steampunk is growing. Wonder if I should invest in more than just a corset.


  1. I really, really appreciate you posting this, because I was getting totally confused as to what steampunk is, but of course was way too wildly busy and important to type it into Google. Or lazy.

  2. I was curious about this myself. Nice synopsis.

    And Andrew Sullivan would approve of the self-linkage.

  3. I too have never heard of steampunk. Very interesting. I'm reminded a lot of Blade Runner. I don't really know why. Good of you to post references back to where you explained it though, as the others mentioned.

  4. Every time I go to a craft fair in Pittsburgh, there's always someone selling these awesome necklaces & brooches & whatnot that are made up of old watch parts arranged to look like really cool bats or birds.
    Like this:
    I always thought they were awesome, but never bought one, since at ~$40, they're a bit out of my price range.
    But I guess these are steampunk. Sweet.

  5. Yep, that bat jewelry would definitely be part of a steampunk fashion. Cogs and gears is definitely steampunk.