Things You Didn’t Know About Steampunk

To most people, all there is to steampunk is the repurposing of Victorian culture and technology for the sake of fun, profit or both. This is the notion that has been widely spread by the media, books and even the fashion world. A culture that is way more than most people understand has been reduced to an imagination of superficial aspects and weirdly dressed folks. However, in a bid to lift the mystery, shun the negativity and shine the spotlight on steampunk, here are a couple of things you and probably many others did not know about it. It could go a long way in helping you understand it better.


It was initially a 'putdown' joke

Just like the Big Bang in cosmology, the term steampunk also started out as a putdown joke but what was supposed to be a diss did not take long before it became a standard. In the mid-1980s at the height of the cyberpunk movement in science fiction, it was predicted that the next big name would be steampunk. This is was around the same time that the word ‘punk’ was widely being used as a suffix. The prophet of the message was a writer known as K.W. Jeter. He cast an eye at the current age and reached out to the attention of many to a culture that featured weird technology, heroism, rich culture, odd beliefs and cool clothing. This is what has come to be known by many as steampunk.


Steampunk is more of an art than it is a fashion

Because of the tendency of creators of steampunk wanting to show off their creations by wearing them, most people have come to believe that is a way of dressing. But, it is more of art. Today, steampunk has inspired literature, music, fashion, artists in the media and even people to make machines and create sculptures of machine parts that would have otherwise been thrown away. It also inspires the reworking of Victorian fashions into trendy apparel. It requires an artistic and highly creative mind to be able to come up with the unique attires and costumes that you see folks adorning at a steampunk gathering.


Steampunk is deconstructive

There is no doubt that people from the Victorian era would loathe what steampunk has done to their attire. It has turned the Victorian Era inside out. In women's fashion, corsets are worn on the outside, the inner workings of gadgets are exposed from the outer layer, and the most interesting part is the fact that the ideas and dreams of people are worn and outwardly expressed for all to see and take in.

There is no doubt that in the steampunk communities, there are those that have different perspectives and takes on it. There are those that only take it as a cool way of looking silly, expressing your creativity and a great avenue for mingling with like-minded people. There are those that are more serious. Those who believe in the artistry that is steampunk and practice it as a way of life. Regardless of how you look at it, rest assured that steampunk is the NOW!


What do we know about steampunk fashion?

Steampunk is the retro brother of the cyberpunk fashion. Art, fashion and jewelry are strongly anachronistic, almost the similar items that you might find in the submarine of the Jules Verne novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Old clocks, lamps gas airships, submersible, goggles, helmets, compasses and various mechanisms are common objects produced by artists, usually brass, mahogany, leather and rivets. 

Comic books introduced this current in the 80s, but the Internet has allowed people to share their inventions and socialize with other fans. British blog "Brass Goggles" and Steampunk Tribune are discussion forums for everything ranging from steampunk, and Boing Boing regularly post material on the subject. Steampunk has several Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. Canadian account has over 9,000 members.

Steampunk style, with shades of sepia, mixes the obsession of the past with a dash of romantic heroism. Current fans are often serious and very smart. Steampunk British magazine, founded in 2007, put on the head:"Before the homogenization and micro-technology era and the spread of electricity, there were gorgeous cars, that lived, breathed and exploded unexpectedly in inappropriate times. It was a time when art and craft were united, when unique wonders were invented and forgotten, and punks walked the streets, living in abandoned houses and fighting against despotic governance through wit, will and wile. "

The exhibition from Oxford museum was achieved when Art Donovan, an American steampunk artist, contacted the museum director, Jim Bennett, to show him his sculpture. They agreed that since Steampunk has many technical and aesthetic influences taken from the nineteenth-century Victorian science, an art exhibition of scientific devices would complement the museum's collection. Museum called Donovan in charge of this event.


An era of eccentric inventors


"Indeed, many steampunk practitioners are not very interested about science. But when we see a trend using this cultural capital in an original and attractive way, we want to be part of it. From our point of view it is an artistic movement prevalent and popular, "said Bennett.

The exhibition presents lanterns, wall clocks, broken steam powered devices, watches and rings, an electrostatic machine with two plates and a press copy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many inventions are completely bizarre, like a breathing device attached to a leather helmets, elephant shaped.

During the visits, the atmosphere is effervescent. "What a pervert!" Exclaimed an old man to his wife while watching glasses leather with brass tentacles. About the same subject, a man told to his child: "Imagine you meet someone wearing that. I think you break into a run."

Bennet was amazed by "the huge volume of interest" that has generated the exhibition. "The number of visitors doubled," he said. Donovan has his own theory for this general fascination: "Steampunk promotes individual interest and involvement in traditional science, physics."

Perhaps in an era where culture has become so common in the virtual environment it is satisfactory to visualize an era of bold explorers and eccentric inventors, heroes and machinery that works with steam.

However Steampunk is not only appearance, but is an intermingling almost mythical of the wacky scientists and weird inventions, in a period when people rarely used their hands to invent or discover something. It is a subculture that uses virtual tools- blogs, Flickr pages for photos, Twitter and iPhones.

Steampunk doesn’t mean just to be fashionable. It means being a little nerdy, science interested, paying attention to details. It is to be both conservative and progressive, to look into the past and future in the same time. " Those interested in purchasing steampunk fashion and accessories can check out for more information.